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FIRST-PERSON: Take steps for good health

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Would you like to reduce your risk of certain types of cancer and diabetes by 50 percent? If so, studies show that beginning and maintaining a regular exercise program may be just what the doctor needs to order.

One of the best and most accessible forms of exercise is walking. Walking increases leg strength, builds bone density and is a recommended activity for reducing your risk of certain types of cancer and other diseases as well. It requires no new skills or expensive equipment; it can be done with or without a partner and almost anywhere and any time.

While walking at any speed will burn calories, fitness walking can strengthen your cardiorespiratory (heart/lung) system, burn fat and help you maintain a healthy weight. Fitness walking involves walking at a speed and intensity level to get your heart rate into your target training zone. (To find out your target training zone heart rate, log onto www.fit4.com and click on the “Health Calculators” in the “Strength” section.) Fitness walking uses muscles in your legs, back, abdomen and upper body.

Fitness walking can have fitness benefits no matter what your fitness level. If you have not exercised regularly within the last year, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program to be sure it is medically safe for you. Follow any instructions that your doctor gives you. Then, begin your walking program slowly. Map out a relatively flat path for you to walk. If you walk at night, take someone with you for safety and stay in well-lit areas. Begin walking at a slower pace for 5-10 minutes. Then gradually increase your speed and walk for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to stand tall as you walk to allow plenty of oxygen into your lungs.

As you walk, take the talk test. If you cannot talk while you walk, you are working too hard. If you can sing a song or carry on a full conversation with ease, you are not walking hard enough.

As your fitness level increases, vary your fitness walking routine by adding hills, increasing your speed, or walking further distances.

Walking provides spiritual benefits as well as physical benefits. Walking outside allows you to appreciate God’s creation and thank God for the body he gave you. You can use your walking time to pray for others and give your concerns and worries to God. And, consider this, walking was Jesus’ primary form of transportation while on earth. So, you can actually “follow in his steps” as you walk to properly care for your body. Consider 1 John 1:5: “… Walk in the light as He is in the light…”
Branda Polk is a certified fitness instructor and the Fit 4 Coordinator at LifeWay Christian Resources. The Fit 4 Fitness Study can help in developing a personalized fitness plan to reach your wellness goals. For more information on Fit 4, go to www.fit4.com. To receive a packet of information about Fit 4, email your name and address to [email protected].

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  • Branda Polk