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HEALTH REPORT - Walking to Better Health

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

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Intense physical exercise is not the only way to better health. Studies show that walking several times a week can lower the risk of many diseases. They include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, bone loss, arthritis and depression. Walking also can help you lose weight.

Fast walking is good for the heart. It lowers the blood pressure. It raises the amount of good cholesterol in the blood. Researchers say walking can sharply reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack.

Studies have also shown that walking for thirty minutes a day can delay and possibly prevent the development of type two diabetes. People who are overweight have an especially high risk to develop this disease.

Walking strengthens the muscles and builds up the bones that they are attached to. Studies show that women who walked and took calcium decreased their risk of developing osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. Walking can also help ease the pain of arthritis in areas where bones are joined. This is because walking strengthens the muscles around the bones.

Walking several times a week is a good way to control weight and lose extra body fat. Studies show it can also help ease the sad feelings of depression.

Experts say walking is one of the safest ways to exercise. There is a low risk of injuries. So it is good for people who are starting an exercise program for the first time and for older people.

A walking program is easy to start. You should wear loose clothes and good shoes. There are shoes that are designed especially for lots of walking.

Stretching is an important part of any exercise program. It helps prevent injury and muscle pain. You should stretch the muscles in your legs, arms and back before and after you walk.

How fast should you walk? For the best effect, doctors say you should walk fast enough to cause you to breathe hard. Yet you should still be able to talk. Let your arms move freely while you walk.

There are no rules to starting a walking program. You might walk short distances. Or you might walk up hills to strengthen your leg muscles. Health experts say you can gain the most from a walking program if you walk at about five kilometers an hour for thirty minutes a day. You should do this about five times a week.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Lawan Davis.

[First broadcast June 19, 2002]

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