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Family Living Focus: Earth’s easiest form of exercise

Walking can add years to your life and life to your years. And, it couldn’t be easier. You don’t need to join a health club, wear special equipment or go into training to reap the rewards. Following are some easy tips to try.

The Conditioner. Walking conditions your heart and lungs and raises your body’s ability to use oxygen more efficiently. In one study, women who walked briskly (3-4 miles per hour) at least three hours a week cut their risk of heart attack and stroke by more than half.

The Protector. Walking helps beat other health problems, too. It reduces your risk of some forms of cancer and osteoporosis. It fights the battle of the bulge, taking off fat and building muscle. Walking can even help people with diabetes reduce or eliminate their need for medication.

The Joint-Saver. Walking can burn about as many calories per mile as jogging does. But, it delivers only about a quarter or the jolt, so it is much easier on your joints and muscles.

The De-Stressor. Walking is easy on your mind, too, since it lessens stress and lightens depression. Beginning walkers usually report that they feel better, sleep better and that their mental outlook improves.

The Winner. Best of all, walking has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise. So, you are more likely to stick with it and get all these benefits and more, like better digestion, improved regularity and lower blood pressure.

There is Nothing to It. Just put on a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes and go. Some smart moves would be to walk to the store for the paper. You could park a few blocks away from work or get off the bus, sub or train and walk from there. Use stairs instead of elevators or escalators. On bad weather days, walk in a mall or on a gym treadmill.

How fast should you go? That is easy, too. Just use the “talk test.” Move at a steady clip that makes your heart beat faster and causes you to breathe more deeply, but doesn’t leave you too breathless to carry on a conversation. You will do yourself a world of good.

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If you would like more information on “Earth’s Easiest Exercise” feel free to contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.

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