Listen to Episode 17 of The Diabetic Toolbox Podcast: Three Ways That Walking Improves Your Overall Health
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As someone diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you always look for the best way to lose weight and get healthy. Because we know from the research that losing weight is one of the best tools for reversing or successfully managing our diagnosis. The American Diabetes Association and the Centers for Disease Control recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity each week. I do not just love walking because it is one of the core components of my coaching program, the Diabetes Weight Loss Lab. It was the primary way I lost forty-three pounds and reversed my prediabetes.
Walking can help you improve your overall health lowering blood sugar numbers and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Dr. Joann Mason, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, found that walking is one of the best types of ‘medicine’ to help prevent diabetes or reduce its severity and potential complications—such as heart attack and stroke—if you already have it.”
Walking is one of the few activities you can begin without a gym membership or fancy equipment. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes, a safe route, and your favorite podcast on your phone. Which, of course, would be The Diabetic Toolbox.
Today, we will talk about three benefits of walking and how you can get started!
- Walking can help you to lose weight and preserve muscle: You cannot rely on dieting alone to lose weight and keep it off. Walking can be integrated into your daily wellness routine and help you burn calories and lose weight; a regular walking program will also help you keep the weight off. Walking can help counter this effect by preserving lean muscle when you lose weight.
- Walking can help you lose belly weight: You will not win the battle of the bulge with sit-ups alone. You must include weight training and cardio activities. Storing fat around your midsection has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Women with a waist size greater than thirty-five inches are considered to have abdominal obesity, a health risk. You do not have to take your walks all at once; if you do not have the time, try splitting up your walking time. If your goal is to walk 60 minutes daily, split this time into two 30-minute walks.
- It eases your stress and improves your mood: dealing with a chronic illness daily can increase stress and help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research has found that regular physical activity reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms, which supports the view that exercise offers participants protection against the development of mental disorders.
- Speak with your doctor. We hear this a lot when starting a new exercise program, but it is essential, especially if you have been secondary or are overweight. Even though walking is safe and has minimal impact, you may want to check with your doctor if you have been sedentary. Your physician can help you set goals that are realistic for you.
- When you are ready, increase your speed. Depending on your weight, you can burn about 65 to 100 calories for each mile you walk. If you move faster, you will burn more calories covering the same distance.
- Vary the pace. Studies also show that interval training is an effective way to burn more calories. Alternate between periods of walking briskly and strolling at a more moderate pace.
- Check your posture. To move efficiently and avoid injuries, ensure you use the proper form. It is usually safer to take more steps rather than trying to lengthen your stride. Check that your heels hit the ground first and use your toes to push you forward. Engage your core muscles to take pressure off your back.
- Use your arms. Swinging your arms will also increase the intensity. If you want to add props, try walking poles or hand weights.
- Try walking backward. For an extra challenge, try walking backward in a safe area. Climbing up hills is another constructive option.
- Listen to music. Playing your favorite tunes can make any workout seem like less effort. Put together a lively soundtrack that will motivate you to keep going.
- Dress comfortably. You can buy shoes designed specifically for walking or choose any pair with low heels and firm support. Dressing in protective layers will also help you deal with cold or wet weather.
Find a friend. Walking with others can be fun. Invite family and friends along or join a local hiking group. If you have a dog, you have a companion who would love to join you at the park.
If you are in midlife, living a sedentary lifestyle, or trying to balance your blood sugar naturally, walking is one of the safest tools to help you achieve your wellness goals. Walking is simple but does so much for your physical and emotional health. In addition to burning more calories, you strengthen your muscles and condition your heart with each step. Make walking a regular part of your workout program.
With Peace & Love,