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Is Walking the Fountain of Youth?

Walking just might be the perfect exercise: It’s low impact, reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and dementia; strengthens your heart, boosts mood, raises vitamin D, burns calories and builds muscle.

Harvard University created a chart that compares the effects of aging with the effects of exercise and found that, in almost every category, exercise counteracts the effects of aging. Now, new studies offer two more reasons to go for a brisk walk.

WALKING & HIIT

Research published in the March 2017 issue of “Cell Metabolism” found that a brisk walk could help slow the aging process. The study broke 72 participants into two age groups (18–30 and 65–80) and three exercise groups (high-intensity interval training, strength training and HIIT with strength training). At the end of the 12-week period, researchers noted that participants in the HIIT group, which included biking or “difficult” treadmill walking, had significant changes at the cellular level.

HIIT caused cells to make more proteins in the mitochondria, which take in and break down nutrients and create energy; and the ribosomes, the cell structures that make protein and repair cell damage. In the younger group, mitochondrial function increased 49%; the increase was 69% in the older group.

What this means, according to K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, diabetes researcher at the Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study, is that exercise appears to stop aging at the cellular level. In addition to cellular changes, those in the HIIT group had improved insulin sensitivity, which could reduce their risk of diabetes.

In a statement, Nair said, “Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process.”

WALKING & STEPS

Walking could also be the key to keeping older adults out of the hospital. Australian researcher Ben Ewald, PhD, senior lecturer in epidemiology and at the University of Newcastle, followed 3,253 adults over age 55 and compared the number of steps they took each day (based on pedometer data) with hospital admissions.

The findings, published in a 2017 issue of the “Medical Journal of Australia,” found that those who walked 8,800 steps per day spent one-third less time in the hospital than their more sedentary peers who walked just 4,500 steps per day.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of cancers, heart disease and diabetes, which are the main serious illnesses, so active people are less likely to end up in hospital,” says Ewald.

Although the research was done on older adults, Ewald believes the findings are applicable to all age groups, noting, “The biggest risk to health these days, now that smoking has nearly died out, is sitting down all day. There is no reason to believe that increased activity at other ages would not have similar health benefits.”

The research would also apply to activities other than walking but, Ewald notes, walking is likely the easiest form of exercise for most people to incorporate into their daily lives. Any activity is good activity,” he says. The key is finding an activity you enjoy and incorporating it into your daily routine.


READ MORE > RESEARCH SHOWS THE HEALTHIEST WAY INTO WORK IS BY BIKE


“The easiest thing is to walk or cycle to work, because by the time you have been to work and back you have also met your physical activity target for the day with no further effort,” says Ewald.

Try wearing an activity tracker to make sure you’re getting at least the 10,000 steps (five miles) per day recommended by the American Heart Association.


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How to Burn Way More Calories Walking

While walking at a relaxed pace has major health benefits — and for sedentary people, it can be a great start to an exercise program — walking isn’t necessarily a calorie-torching activity. But if you’re looking to burn extra calories on foot, consider amping up your activity with these five tricks:

1. TACKLE THE HILLS

Use your surrounding environment to break a sweat on a walk. Seek out the hills instead of avoiding them. If you don’t live in a hilly place, even doing hill repeats on the same hill gets your heart pumping.

2. HIT THE TRAILS

Trails require more coordination and all-body stability to navigate roots and rocks than a plain paved road or sidewalk. Also, according to recent studies, the bonus time spent in nature versus on city streets will make you happier and more energized in the long run.

3. ADD WEIGHT

Whether it’s carrying your groceries home from the market or wearing a weighted vest on a power walk, taking on an extra load burns extra calories. Just make sure you’re carrying things evenly — switch hands if you’re carrying a bag, or invest in a quality backpack.


READ MORE > DOES WALKING WITH WEIGHTS BOOST WEIGHT LOSS?


4. ADD INTERVALS

You don’t need to start running all the time — but a few fartlek intervals will boost your heart rate and metabolism. As you walk around the neighborhood, simply pick up the pace and do a jog or hard run for a half block or to the next stop sign. Even 10 seconds of fast-paced running done a few times can have major benefits, and eventually, you might find that you want to add even more running to your routine.


READ MORE > HOW HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING CAN START WITH WALKING


5. SNEAK IN BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES

Take advantage of those parks with fitness loops that include stations for different activities like pullups and tricep dips. If you don’t have one of those nearby, you can DIY it by stopping every few minutes and holding a plank for a few seconds, doing a few air squats or walking lunges.

The post How to Burn Way More Calories Walking appeared first on Under Armour.

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Is Power Walking Still a Thing?

While there’s no exact point in time that marks when power walking started, or a precise definition, it’s often referred to as aerobic or fitness walking, and it’s a spinoff of race walking, which became an Olympic sport in 1904.

Lately, though, it seems power walking isn’t as popular as it once was — or is it that when people say walking, power walking is just implied. We did a little digging and spoke to experts to get the lowdown on the state of power walking.

THE BEGINNINGS OF POWER WALKING

Even before race walking, there was what we called pedestrianism. “Individuals would walk for distance or sometimes speed,” says Michele Stanten, American Council of Exercise board member, author of “Walk Off Weight.” “It was a popular spectator sport in Europe back in the 1800s and early 1900s.” Then came Volksmarches, explains Stanten, which were non-competitive distance walks, popular in the ‘60s, followed by the creation of charity walks in the ‘70s, where these events were used to help support a greater good. “The popularity of power walking rose in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s,” says Stanten. “It’s actually even when I started walking along with running and aerobics.”

There’s not an exact definition or reason to explain the rise of power walking, points out Stanten. “During this time period, we all learned that exercise did not have to be extreme — we didn’t all need to run 10Ks or marathons to have cardio fitness,” says Michele Olson, PhD, CSCS, an adjunct professor of sport science at Huntingdon College. “Walking, which is a very body-friendly form of cardio, was something anyone could do, and it was cost effective. The only type of equipment you truly need is a pair of quality exercise shoes.”


READ MORE > WALKING WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AFTER THIS WEEKEND: INTRODUCING EVERWALK


POWER WALKING FOR FITNESS

If done correctly, power walking counts for fitness — it can even be your sole form of exercise. Just try walking on a treadmill at 5 miles per hour for an extended amount of time without letting your form be affected. You need to have a fast gait and efficient movement, explains Olson, but that can be learned.

“Walking workouts often include interval and fartlek training, where you speed up, go off-road, up and down hills, incorporate walking lunges, walk sideways and backwards,” says Olson. “Recent studies even show that if you walk 15,000 steps a day you can stay fit, lose weight and fight off heart disease.” However, most of these studies talk just about walking — not power walking. So is it just implied that you should be power walking, or is just plain walking enough?

IS POWER WALKING STILL A THING?

From a public-health standpoint, the goal is to get all people moving, and even regular walking is a very good option for that. “That’s where the focus has shifted — pedometers and the research on steps throughout the day have shown us that all walking counts,” says Stanten. “But there are still reasons to promote power walking, especially to all the people who are already doing some walking.”

In short, if you love power walking, you should power walk loud and proud. Trends may come and go, but anything that keeps us moving — and walking at any speed — is worth doing.

The post Is Power Walking Still a Thing? appeared first on Under Armour.

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How High-Intensity Interval Training Can Start with Walking

You’ve probably heard about the amazing benefits of high-intensity interval training — notably: faster fat burning and increased calorie burn both during your workout and for hours after. But the simple fact is that some of the exercises typically used in HIIT (think: burpees, squat thrusts, etc.) can be tough to perform correctly at high speeds, especially if you’re new to exercise, returning after a long hiatus or need to stay low impact for your joints.

The good news is that a recent study found that the best way to get started with HIIT is by walking. A focused power walk is one of the simplest and most practical ways to incorporate this type of interval work into your regular exercise program.

To help you get started, here’s an outline for a program you can try on your next walk. This works well both outdoors or on the treadmill.

THE 30-MINUTE HIIT WALK

As you build your fitness level, try shortening the length of your steady pace intervals and working at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. (Feel free to adjust the length of your intervals as needed.) If, for example, you aren’t able to fully catch your breath during your recovery period, you may need to take more time in between your work intervals as you boost your stamina.

Warmup (3 minutes): Walk at an easy, comfortable pace

Interval set (5 reps):

  • Steady state (3 minutes): Walk briskly, enough that your breathing is elevated, but you can still talk easily.
  • High-intensity (1 minute): Walk as quickly as you possibly can. At this pace your breathing should be very labored; talking is difficult.
  • Recovery (1 minute): Walk at a comfortable pace, and focus on catching your breath.

Cooldown (2 minutes): Continue to walk at an easy, comfortable pace. (Maybe add a few stretches.)


READ MORE > HIIT FOR BEGINNERS WEEK 1: WALKING INTERVALS


Looking for additional options for low-impact HIIT? Don’t miss our “30-Minute Low Impact HIIT” session included in our “Walk On: 21 Day Weight Loss Plan” program! It’s the perfect place to get started with HIIT, and the walking-based workout includes options to help you advance your intensity level once you get fitter.


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