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Brisk, Regular Walking Keeps Off the Pounds

Walking is a wonderful and low-impact way to jump-start your personal exercise program, as it is easy on your joints doesn't require much training. What's more, the only equipment you really need is a good pair of shoes. Two interesting studies in this morning's USA Today highlight the value of regular, brisk walking as exercise, however, with two caveats that will certainly affect your success.

In the first study, 191 overweight or obese women were placed on reduced-calorie diets and walking programs of various intensity levels that they followed for two years. Most patients chose brisk walking ranging from less than 150 minutes to more than 200 minutes each week.

Those who lost the most weight -- and kept it off -- exercised more than 300 minutes a week by the end of the first year, and no less than 270 minutes a week at the end of the study. The beauty of exercise that a growing number of experts and patients are finally figuring out: The amount of time you devote to exercise each day, as well as the frequency and intensity, are difference-makers if you want to make a huge dent in that exercise debt you've accumulated over the years.

The latter study is interesting because it too prescribed a walking regimen for obese women that gradually increased over time by distance and speed. Half of the patients were given portable CD players so they could listen to their favorite music while they exercised. Not surprisingly, those who listened to music as they exercised followed the prescribed exercise plan more closely and lost about twice as much weight and body fat than those who didn't.

So, if you're looking to ramp up your exercise program, you may want to invest some dollars in an inexpensive MP3 player, but take great care in protecting your ears.

USA Today October 24, 2005

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