The heat of summer may not encourage you to spend time outside, but don’t let it lead you to an inactive and sedentary lifestyle, which could be very dangerous to your health.
There is a strong association between sedentary regimens and poor cardiometabolic health, according to a study conducted in 2013 at the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at United Kingdom-based Leicester General Hospital. Depleted cardiometabolic health can lead to obesity, diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.
Dr. Martha Gulati, director of preventive cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, attributes this prevalence of these problems to two things: North American diet and low activity.
“Activity levels among many adults and kids are very low,” Gulati says. “Very few people are meeting the daily activity requirements, while portion sizes have risen exponentially throughout the years.”
In fact, only 16 percent of women meet the recommended level of daily activity, she says. For her own patients at risk or suffering from metabolic diseases, she gives them two simple tips: Move more and eat less.
And when it comes to moving, Gulati recommends starting small with a simple walking regimen.
“We usually recommend people get 30 minutes a day of moderately intense exercise, but we really just want people to get out there, start small. Just do something,” she says.
The health benefits of walking are numerous. A study in 2013 from the Unit of Metabolic Diseases and Clinical Dietetics at the University of Bologna, Italy shows that brisk walking has a substantial effect on the prevention and even treatment of many harmful metabolic diseases.
Another 2013 study, this one from Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre in Brazil, found a significant correlation in middle-aged women who incorporated a moderate level of walking (greater than 6,000 steps) and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Due to its low impact, walking is easier and safer on joints than running, making it a more manageable way to live a fit lifestyle for many women. And while running may seem more taxing, walking retains similar health benefits.
In a study completed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, walking and running led to similar risk reductions for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes mellitus. Specifically, walking decreased the risk of diabetes mellitus by 12.3 percent.
Gulati adds that people who work out, even a little bit, sleep better.
The health benefits, safety and accessibility of walking are some of the reasons why Phil Heit, president of the New Albany Walking Club and professor emeritus of physical activity and educational services at OSU, created the New Albany Walking Classic.
The Walking Classic, designed to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles, has grown exponentially since its creation in 2005, was voted Walk Magazine’s “Best Walking Event” in 2008 and is America’s largest walking-only race. This year’s event is slated for Sept. 8.
For registration information, visit www.newalbanywalkingclassic.com.
In the months leading up to the event, many women join the Walking Club in order to train and prepare. The club meets every Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Membership is $35 and it comes with T-shirts, health seminars and much more.
And the New Albany Walking Club isn’t the only walking group in town. The Step and Stride Walking Club of Westerville meets every Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Westerville Sports Complex from July 1 to Sept. 23. This club also works as a preparation for its final event, the 10 Mile Challenge, on Sept. 29.
And if walking seems a bit bland for your taste, the Central Ohio Hiking Club meets every Saturday at hiking trails around central Ohio.
The appeal of these clubs is the experience to celebrate healthy lifestyles in a caring community of individuals that offer encouragement, guidance and support.
David Allen is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at email@example.com