This summer we have been camp hosting at an Oregon Trail day use visitor park. For my daily exercise I usually walk the 3 mile loop to open the gate, go up to the turn around and around the main trail twice a day rather than drive. A lot of my walking time is spent at a very brisk pace but I walk not only for the exercise but also to commune with nature.
Recently I read an article by Dr. Aaron Baggish an associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In the article he gave some advice on how to dramatically increase the health benefits of walking.
His advice: “Try interval walking.”
When interval walking was compared to regular walking, researchers found that 30 minutes of interval walking four days a week greatly benefitted overall health through improved aerobic fitness, lowered blood pressure, reduced weight and increased leg strength.
He says interval walking “is a great way to get the most exercise bang for your buck. It improves endurance, reduces blood pressure and helps with weight loss.”
In a decade long study, Japanese researchers have been studying the benefits for seniors of interval walking for over a decade. Researchers from the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine split 696 men and women between the ages of 58 and 72 into two groups. Both groups walked four days a week for thirty minutes a day.
Researchers had one group walk normally at 40% of their full exertion for three minutes. Then they had them speed up to a 70% exertion rate for three minutes. The walkers repeated these intervals five times for 30 minutes total.
The other group walked at a leisurely 40% exertion rate for the entire 30 minutes.
After five months, the researchers compared the two groups’ for overall fitness, health and weight loss.
Participants who walked casually showed very little improvement. The…