We are recommended to take a thirty minute brisk walk at least five days a week for optimum health benefits. However if you are obese this may be impossible and you may think it is unattainable. Do not lose heart as research at the University of Colorado has suggested that strolling for obese people could result in more calorie loss than brisk walking. While the conclusions of this study are open to debate if it gives hope and encouragement to people who find exercise difficult it will have achieved an enormous amount.
Strolling on a regular basis is better than taking no exercise at all and if you keep it up you will reap the benefits of feeling better, experience a sense of achievement and enjoy increased mobility.
There is a difference between being overweight and being obese. Your body mass index is used to assess whether you are obese or not. Each person has an ideal body weight depending on his/her height and whether or not he/she has a small, medium or large body frame.
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and health problems. Overweight is being too heavy for your height. Muscle and bone mass as well as fat accumulation contribute to being overweight. If you are 20% or more over your ideal body weight you are considered mildly obese. You can calculate your BMI (body mass index) by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres. If your BMI is more than 30 you are considered mildly obese.
Walking is a weight bearing exercise and as such there is likelihood that brisk walking increases the risk of osteoarthritis in obese individuals because of the body weight they are carrying and consequent stress on the knee joints. Walking at a slower pace puts less stress on a person’s lower body and it is likely that knee –joint load may be reduced by walking slower. This is why strolling as opposed to brisk walking is an acceptable form of exercise for obese people.
You will need good walking shoes that have adequate support and good shock absorbing qualities. Use a walking stick to help balance and take some of the weight. Make sure you are well hydrated before you start and bring a small bottle of water with you as obese people sweat more during exercise and may become dehydrated more quickly. Stroll on even terrain and test your ability to begin with. Try a short distance and remember you have to return to base. When you can walk your chosen distance comfortably you can then increase the distance until you can stroll comfortably for thirty minutes. This may take time but be patient.
Combine your daily exercise with some healthy modifications to your diet and you will notice a difference in your health before long. Always talk to your medical advisor before you embark on any exercise programme or diet modification.
Enjoy your stroll!