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Just Like I've Always Said, Walking is Not Enough For Significant Exercise

October 03, 2006 | 30,521 views
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A study of over 100 men and women shows that walking as exercise may not be enough to produce significant health benefits.

The study compared a popular walking exercise program to a more traditional fitness routine incorporating cardio-based activities on treadmills and stationary bicycles.

The traditional group was asked to exercise at a moderate intensity, whereas the walking group was allowed to go at a self-selected pace.

The traditional fitness program improved aerobic fitness and reduced systolic blood pressure more than the walking program. Those who took part in the active regimen increased their peak oxygen uptake by 10 percent, compared to 4 percent for the other group.

Systolic blood pressure also dropped by 10 percent for the traditional group and 4 percent for the walking group.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Exercise is a serious issue. I fully believe that it is far better to consider it as a drug and, as such, use it in very precise doses to receive the optimal benefit. It is relatively easy to over or underdose with exercise.

One of the keys, however, is to listen to your body, and NOT your brain or intellect. Many of us feel that as long as we put in the time that will be sufficient to get our dose of exercise.

So many go out for a slow walk for 10 or 15 minutes under the false belief that it will satisfy their exercise needs. Now, if you were the half-ton man, that might just do it, but even for him, after awhile his body would adjust to it and he would require a larger dose to achieve the same benefit.

About two-thirds of us are overweight and we need to repay the serious exercise debt we have acquired to optimize our health. This interesting study helps to destroy the myth that all that matters is calories.

I can't tell you how many articles and studies I have read that state either running or walking a mile burns the same amount of calories, so why run and increase your risk of injury?

Intuitively I never bought that argument, but used the justification to continue running these past 40 years because it was more time efficient.

Well now we find out that that there is real obvious logic to it that seemed to have escaped most expert's attention, and that is that it is not just calories burned but calories burned over a unit time that is the key. The real key to weight loss is the difference between your basal metabolic rate and your activity.

When you exercise vigorously that difference can become quite substantial and not only burn immediate calories but help to reset your thermostat for burning calories while you sleep -- something that less intense exercise is not very good at.

The simple act of writing out a prescription for exercise is an excellent approach to being proactive in regard to your health. It's also far more logical, inexpensive and actually radically reduces your risk of most every chronic disease known to man. A daily exercise routine is one of the main factors in achieving optimal wellness.

The key to exercising effectively is to make sure the following variables are properly addressed:

  • Length of time
  • Frequency
  • Intensity

By doing so, you will ensure all your hard efforts are not wasted and are having a positive effect on your body.

I encourage my patients to gradually increase the amount of time they are exercising to 60 to 90 minutes a day. Initially the frequency is daily, but this is a treatment dose until you normalize your weight or insulin levels. Once normalized, you will only need to exercise three to four times a week.

You should exercise hard enough so that it is difficult to talk to someone next to you. However, if you cannot carry on a conversation AT ALL, then you have gone too far and need to decrease the intensity.

If you're not sure where to start, review my beginner's exercise page. And, if you have difficulty making time for exercise, you'll want to read a new series of articles about a practical and effective training program developed by Ryan Lee.

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