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Walking to a healthy heart
courtesy of British Heart Foundation

Welcome to a healthy heart and a more energetic you - the easy way!

Your heart is the powerhouse of the body, it pushes oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to every cell that needs it. The heart is basically a muscle - but it's the most important muscle we've got. And it needs exercise, so that it can pump more blood with each beat and save you energy.

Exercise doesn't have to mean exhausting runs, buying fancy equipment or joining an expensive health club. Walking gives your heart the workout it needs. All you need to do is build brisk walking into your daily routine.

Did you know?

Simply walking for 30 minutes, at least five times a week, without over-exerting yourself, can make you healthier. It doesn't have to be in one session, break it down into two or three 10-15 minute sessions.

What walking will do for you

Brisk walking is an ideal way to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It can also reduce your risk of stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity and gives you more energy to do the things you enjoy in life.

  • Studies have shown that regular walkers have improved levels of cholesterol - the fat in the blood clearly linked with heart disease - with more of the protective HDL cholesterol which is better for you.
  • Tones up your muscles and strengthens your bones. Regular brisk walking also wards off osteoporosis - the unpleasant and often painful thinning of the bones experienced by many women after menopause.
  • Helps to control your weight. Being overweight can lead to raised blood pressure. Physical activity is at least as important as diet in keeping trim.

  • Reduces blood pressure. As we get older blood pressure tends to rise which can be very risky in later life. Walking helps keep your blood pressure down.

Did you know?

A recent study found that men who take regular brisk walks have less than half the rate of coronary heart disease and heart attacks than those who do not.

Your easy walking action plan

Walking is a great way to get the exercise your heart needs. Walk regularly, and build up to it gradually. It may take around 8 - 12 weeks to start feeling the difference. But when you do, you'll know it's worth it.  Use this guide if you are not used to physical activity and need to build up gradually. Consult your doctor first if you have heart disease. Don't go walking if you have a raised temperature.

Weeks 1 and 2 - Frequency: 2 - 3 times a week

  • Start off with 10 - 15 minutes at your normal walking pace. Try not to stop and admire the view too often!

Weeks 3 and 4 - Frequency: 2 - 3 times a week

  • Time yourself on the outward journey while walking at your normal pace for 10 minutes. On each homeward journey increase your pace slightly so that the return journey takes less than 10 minutes.

Weeks 5 and 6 - Frequency: 3 - 4 times a week

  • Outward journey timed at 12 minutes.Try to alternate your normal pace with some brisk walking. On the first homeward journey record your time and try to improve on that time by a few seconds, whenever you go for a walk.

Weeks 7 and 8 - Frequency: 4 - 5 times a week

  • Outward journey timed at 15 minutes. Prolong the periods you walk at a brisk pace. Aim to be able to walk briskly - all the way home.

Week 9 and beyond - Frequency: 5 times a week

  • You should now be capable of 30 minutes' continuous brisk walking. If you can't manage 30 minutes - remember that two 15 minute periods are just as beneficial.

Here's how to make brisk walking part of your life.

  • Build a walk into your journey to work. Get off the bus early, or park away from the office. Don't use a lift or escalator. Walking up and down stairs is really good for the heart. Enjoy the challenge of longer walks in shorter times.

  • Save the expense of driving to the shops - walk instead.

  • Involve the family. Walking is good for children too, and it's a great way of exploring the countryside

See lots more about the Heart and Walking on
the  British Heart Foundation web site at

Walking the Way to Health

Walking the way to health is an initiative of the British Heart Foundation and the Countryside Agency.
read "walking beefs up brains"









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