Many exercise/fitness gurus have conditioned us to accept that we need thirty or more sweat-producing minutes of exercise five days a week to achieve good looks, glistening hair, charming personality, and high-level success. Well, maybe those aren’t the exact claims, but the general consensus has been that exercise regiments should be of concentrated exertion to be effective for either weight loss or shaping up.
Recent findings indicate that breaking long, intense periods into shorter periods of varying intensity can be more beneficial. Translated into walking, you don’t need forty-five minutes of high-intensity walking five days a week to reap health-enhancing benefits. Sessions of about thirty minutes, including periods of easy and fast walking, give you various benefits!
Walking is multi-beneficial when you start at a comfortable pace for about ten minutes, put on the steam for the next ten minutes, then cruise home at a comfortable level for the last ten minutes. When you walk comfortably for about ten minutes, your body uses anaerobic (without oxygen) and aerobic (with oxygen) processes.
The body uses energy from the anaerobic activity for power moves and to get us off to a fast start. This instant energy comes from carbohydrates stored in cells and leaves lactic acid as a by-product. Sustained activity calls on aerobic processes that use oxygen to convert carbohydrates and, ultimately, fats as “fuel” to produce energy. Speeding up your walk, your heart rate and breathing intensify as energy production switches to aerobic processes. This gets your blood scurrying through your veins to soak up as much oxygen as possible and eliminate physiological acid. You can go a lot faster and farther on aerobically produced energy than you can on anaerobic energy. Aerobic fast walking exercises both your cardiovascular system and your muscles. It helps build endurance. When you slow down again, your body can “work out” the lactic acid that muscles have produced, and you lessen the chance of next-day soreness. Begin and end your outing with ten minutes of warm-up and cool-down walking.
While fast walking helps strengthen your blood and oxygen delivery systems, easy contralateral walking helps retime internal communications. All body sections are coordinated in contralateral walking to work in balanced unity – left and right, top and bottom. Opposing muscles contract and relax in a synchronized rhythm. Neither the sympathetic nor the parasympathetic nervous system is over-stressed. Internal “message circuits” are freed of “clutter.” This means that fast and slow walking sessions improve muscle tone, elasticity, and internal timing. That’s a win!