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Walking for Exercise: You've done it for decades, but this is the right way to do it!

Your doctor has advised you to walk more for heart health. You've been walking since you stopped crawling, so you likely don't give walking much thought.

"Walking is a great aerobic exercise, so long as you do it often enough and long enough to gain cardiovascular benefit," says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Michael Rocco, MD, who coached thousands of patients in his career as medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic.

The answer is yes, there is a right way to walk:

If you have not done a lot of walking lately, start out with short walks of 10 to 20 minutes three times a week. If you cannot walk this long, walk for shorter periods several times a day.

Increase your walking time gradually by adding a day each week and then add five to 10 minutes to each walk. Work up to walking five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

Over time increase the intensity of your exercise by walking faster or up an incline.

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (walking at 2.5 miles per hour or faster).

Take a natural stride, and increase your pace by taking more steps, rather than increasing the length of your stride.

Swing your arms naturally to help with balance. Do not carry hand weights, particularly if you have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease.

Warm up by walking for three to five minutes at a slower pace before stopping to stretch. Hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds without bouncing. Complete your walking session; then cool down at a slower pace.

If you have a history of heart disease, it is best to start walking in a supervised cardiac rehabilitation program.

If you develop any chest discomfort, shortness of breath, light-headedness or palpitations, or joint or muscle pain, stop exercising.

"If these symptoms occur, or you experience a decrease in your ability to continue walking at the same speed or for the same length of time, tell your doctor: This can be a sign of heart disease," says Dr. Rocco. "


* Make walking part of your daily routine. The best time of day to exercise is the time you will do it consistently.

* Consider walking with a friend.

* Walking increases strength and aerobic capacity, but does not target core, arm and back muscles. Consider performing resistance exercises with light weights twice a week--but not while you are walking.

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Title Annotation:EXERCISE
Publication:Heart Advisor
Date:Mar 22, 2019
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