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Better heart health starts with a daily walk

  • Category: Exercise
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Better heart health starts with a daily walk

Walking is quite possibly the easiest exercise to adopt. It requires nothing more than a good pair of shoes and a few minutes of your time. You can do it anywhere, even if all you do is make laps around your block. Beyond its ease and simplicity, daily walking is good for your heart health.

Your heart on a walk a day

Your heart is a muscle. When you walk, or do any other form of physical activity, every day, the exercise makes it stronger. A stronger heart can pump blood more efficiently and keep blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles and organs.

In addition, exercise lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels, helps keep your cholesterol levels within healthy ranges, and helps you lose weight—all of which can lower your risk for heart disease and heart attacks.

Time check: How long you should walk for better heart health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of a moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, every week. That’s about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you can work your way up to 300 minutes a week, about an hour a day for five days, that’s even better.

Keep in mind, however, that you don’t have to do that all at once. Start with the goal of reaching 30 minutes a day by fitting in short five- to 10-minute walks throughout the day. Then, work your way up to an hour a day if that feels doable.

A healthier heart with 10,000 steps?

Smart watches and step-counter smartphone apps like to tout the goal of 10,000 steps a day. Many people find that goal difficult to reach. Plus, it may not improve your heart health any more than a short, brisk walk at your local park.

In recent years, research has found that even small increases in your daily step count can improve heart health. For example, a 2023 study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that walking just 500 extra steps a day lowered the risk of dying from heart and vascular disease by 7%. Walking an extra 1,000 steps per day reduced participants’ risk of dying from any chronic disease.

Other studies focusing on older women have found similar results. One researcher affiliated with the National Institutes of Health found that women who walked, on average, 4,400 steps a day lived longer than women who walked just 2,700 steps per day and that health benefits seem to plateau around 7,500 steps per day.

Just do it!

Ultimately, the more you walk, the better your heart health. Find ways to fit in more daily walking with these tips:

  • Find a walking buddy. Make your walks a social occasion, which not only helps your heart but also gives your mental health a boost.
  • Invest in a good pair of walking shoes. Walking in shoes without proper support can lead to muscle, joint and low back pain. Choose walking shoes that offer stability, cushioning and comfort to help prevent injuries.
  • Schedule your walks. It can feel hard to stay motivated every day. By making walks part of your daily routine, you might find it easier to get out there when you aren’t feeling up to it.
  • Sign up for a charity walk. Register to participate in the 2023 New Orleans Heart Walk. You’ll burn calories, get healthy and help raise funds for lifesaving heart care.

The team at Touro Heart & Vascular Care can help you find ways to protect your heart health. Schedule an appointment today.