Thirty minutes of walking could save your life. Find out how.
Physical exercise can often be the last thing on the mind for someone suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although exercise can be challenging for anyone, there are benefits to personal health and wellness.
In many cases, the advantages of exercise can be two-fold. Not only can exercise work to strengthen the body on a vascular level, but it can also help burn fat, enabling better breathing. All it takes is a little walking.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to inspire you to stand up and take that first step outside. Want to fight lung disease? Start by walking.
Effects on COPD
Walking is one of the best methods of moderate exercise available. In a recent study, scientists have found that COPD patients who walked about two to three miles per day were less likely to be hospitalized for flare-ups.
The benefits of physical activity depend on three elements: the intensity, duration and frequency of exercise. Although running is more intensive than walking, the benefits can be matched if you walk for longer periods.
Today, the American Heart Association calls for 30 minutes of regular walking five days a week. However, be sure to limit your pace to what feels comfortable.
The aerobic doctrine holds that the benefits of exercise depends on boosting your heart rate between 70% and 85% of its maximum, sustaining that effort continuously for 20 to 60 minutes and repeating that exercise at least three times a week.
However, this type of exercise is hard work, so start off as slow as needed and talk with your doctor before starting or changing your exercise program.
Overall Health Benefits
In a study conducted between 1970 and 2007, it was found that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of dying during the study period by 32%.
- Among 44,452 male health professionals, walking at least 30 minutes a day was linked to an 18% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
- Among 72,488 female nurses, walking at least three hours a week was linked to a 35% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death and a 34% lower risk of stroke.
- Among 10,269 male graduates of Harvard College, walking at least nine miles a week was linked to a 22% lower death rate.
In a separate 10-year study, 229 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to walk at least one mile a day or to continue normal activities.
By the end of the trial, the walkers had an 82% lower risk of heart disease. Among direct benefits, such as a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke, regular walkers can also expect other areas to be affected, including:
- Blood pressure
- Colon cancer
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Weight loss
How to Get Started
Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible forms of exercise. There’s no required attire or footwear, and it’s an exercise that can be started at any time.
Try walking to work or the store. Take your dog for a walk. Park farther away from stores and other destinations, or consider taking a walk during your lunch hour. The key is to get started and to be consistent.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.