Walk Your Way to A Healthy Heart


Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise - Know the Difference

Aerobic exercise is defined as exercise of movement. The body is put under the stress of repetitive movement where the heart rate and blood pressure will elevate. This is in contrast to anaerobic exercise which is exercise of strengthening even in the stationary position. The muscles push against resistance, making them larger and stronger. This exercise can lead to elevation of blood pressure where readings as high as 300 mm Hg of the systolic (top number) have been recorded in competitive weight lifters. The heart rate does not elevate significantly. There are no cardiovascular benefits to this type of exercise even though calories are burned and the person may feel better in the process. If done in moderation, a person's overall strength will improve which is of course a favorable endeavor.

Aerobic Is The Way To Go for Your Heart

Back to aerobic exercise. Here the heart rate can easily increase by 40-80% increasing the speed of blood flow throughout the body. Think of it as taking your Ferrari out for a ride at 100 mph, which the car needs to function at full capacity. Likewise, the body needs to "open up" on a regular basis for it's components to function at full capacity. Lipid levels will decline by as much as 20% if the aerobic exercise is done on a consistent and intensive basis. Jogging and using gym equipment such as stair-masters and elliptical trainers will easily accomplish that goal. Blood pressure, although increasing during the exercise period, will ultimately show a reduction as the arterial walls become more compliant.

As the population ages, the joints may not be able to allow the speed and repetitive nature that high impact exercise requires. Simple walking can do the job, but how can it be quantified? "Brisk walking" was used as an example of creating cardiovascular fitness. The definition given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is walking at a pace where you are able to talk but not sing, which is something I've never seen a jogger do. So a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine gives us more quantifiable measurements re: brisk walking. They found that walking at a speed of 2.7 miles per hour can confer the advantages of adequate aerobic exercise without putting too much strain on legs and joints. Putting it more simply, walking at a pace of 100 steps per minute will achieve that goal. This is easily measurable by simply counting the number of steps you take in 10 seconds and multiplying that by 6.

The current federal exercise guidelines suggest 30 minutes of brisk walking most days, which would translate into 3,000 steps taken at the 100 steps per minute pace. If you are in good health and want more vigorous exercise you can ramp up your speed to 130 steps per minute, a pace where you would still be walking. Jogging usually starts at 140 steps per minute but is not necessary to reap the rewards of aerobic exercise.

So put on your shorts and walking shoes, and get out there an WALK!!!

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