A study of 100 men and women who were divided into groups that walked and those that used a more traditional cardio routine revealed that walking produced less than half the positive results of the cardio group.
By Mark Hoerrner
It’s not the “shot heard ’round the world” in fitness, but it should create cause for alarm in the health and wellness community. Doctors and other fitness professionals who have touted a “few minutes a day” walking program may be falling far short on the advice that should be given to the public.
A new study that compared walkers to those using stationary exercise devices found that the walkers only increased their oxygen intake by four percent, compared to 10 percent for the more traditional cardio exercise group.
“Exercise is a serious issue,” says Dr. John Mercola of the Mercola Optimal Wellness Center. “I fully believe that it is far better to consider it as a drug and, as such, use it in very precise doses to receive the optimal benefit. It is relatively easy to over or underdose with exercise. One of the keys, however, is to listen to your body, and NOT your brain or intellect.
Many of us feel that as long as we put in the time that will be sufficient to get our dose of exercise. So many go out for a slow walk for 10 or 15 minutes under the false belief that it will satisfy their exercise needs. Now, if you were the half-ton man, that might just do it, but even for him, after a while his body would adjust to it and he would require a larger dose to achieve the same benefit.”
Mercola personally advocates running, but says there’s a larger issue at stake.
“Most of the patients I see have a serious exercise debt and if they only walk for 30 minutes a few times a week they will never repay the principal on their debt,” he says. “If they wish to optimize their health they need to do move towards about 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day. This amount of exercise is only required in the treatment phase though and they can cut back to 45 minutes three times a week once they become healthy.”
Past medical research studies have demonstrated conclusively that exercise, done on a regular basis and at a strenuous level, assisted in the prevention of heart disease. Those who are sedentary and do not exercise properly are seven times more likely to have a heart attack than those who have a set exercise routine, according to the American Heart Association.
“The way I see it: It really helps to view exercise as a drug,” Mercola says. “The perspective then provides a context of just how powerful exercise truly is in the treatment of serious disease. It also helps one recognize that, like many drugs, the dose needs to be titrated very carefully. If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes then you will want to consider a daily exercise program, working up to 90 minutes per day until you normalize the problem.”