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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

A walk a day can help keep the doctor away

STILLWATER, Okla. – The benefits of a simple daily walk are endless.

A 30-minute jaunt can lead to improved blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It also can reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

“It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you,” said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Extension nutrition specialist. “Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any exercise. It’s an easy low-risk, low-cost way to stay active.”

With warmer temperatures settling in, now is the perfect time to start a new healthy habit of walking.

According to the American Heart Association, walkers should consider layering loose clothing and wearing shoes designed for walking or running. Walkers should lightly stretch before and after walking.

Each walk should start slowly, then increase in speed and include a cool down.

Beginning walkers should start with a comfortable distance and gradually work on increasing the distance or time each week.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week for adults.

The recommendation is the same for individuals 65 years and older who are generally fit, and with no limiting health conditions.

“The guideline of 150 minutes breaks down to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, or a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes. That’s about how much time you might spend watching a movie,” Hermann said. “Even shorter 10-minute sessions can be added up over the day and throughout the week to reach the recommended amount of time.”

Walkers should take care to keep the volume down if they choose to wear headphones. They also should stick to sidewalks. If unable to walk on the sidewalk, walkers should consider using streets with lower speed limits.

“Pay close attention to your surroundings and use well-traveled streets,” Hermann said. “Walking with friends or family can make it fun as well as add a measure of safety.”

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, in 2014, 30 percent of U.S. adults reported being inactive during their leisure time, while 49 percent reported physical activity levels in line with recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity.

For more information about the benefits of a walking program and walking safety, contact a local county Extension office, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org or go to the CDC at www.cdc.gov.

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000