Stepping Toward Weight Loss and Better Health

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Weight Loss
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

At the Whitaker Wellness Institute, exercise is part of the fabric of day-to-day life. It’s an essential therapy for all of our patients, and one they practice daily while they’re at the clinic. The program we prescribe is simple, convenient, and pleasant: It’s walking.

Walking tones the largest muscles of your body and helps keep off excess weight. It gets your heart rate up and enhances circulation. It strengthens your bones and heart, improves mood and sleep, and helps lower blood sugar and triglycerides—all at minimal risk of injury.

At the clinic, we take our patients on a 10-minute walk after each meal. This is particularly important for people living with diabetes, because it helps clear glucose out of the bloodstream. We also encourage everyone to walk on their own whenever possible.

In order to track their progress and help motivate them, we use pedometers. Researchers from Stanford and the University of Minnesota recently found that these step-counting devices are a real benefit when it comes to losing weight, lowering blood pressure, and increasing activity levels.

The scientists reviewed data from 26 studies involving more than 2,700 mostly female participants who were fairly inactive and overweight. Over 18 weeks, those who wore a pedometer took approximately 2,000 more steps every day (that’s almost a mile!), lowered their systolic blood pressure an average of 3.8 points, and decreased their body mass index by 0.4 points.

These findings led researchers to conclude that if just 10 percent of Americans started walking on a regular basis, $5.6 billion could be saved each year in heart disease costs.

Walking is one of the easiest—not to mention least expensive—forms of exercise out there. Better still, most anyone can do it. Pedometers, which run about $10–$25 can be purchased in most retail stores. Get yourself one ASAP and gradually work your way up to 10,000 steps per day.
 

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