By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Slow walking is better than no walking for the obese
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have encouraging news for walkers:
A leisure walk can help obese adults burn more calories per mile than their slimmer counterparts who walk briskly and might even lower the risk of arthritis and injuries to the joints than picking up the pace.
The study looked at men and women who were obese and those of normal weight as they walked set distances at different speeds.
They found the obese people burned more calories walking at a lower pace for a longer time than walking at a faster speed.
It might be just the incentive needed for people turned off by the traditional advice to take at least five brisk walks, 30 minutes at a time, per week. Also, three 10-minute walks throughout the day are just as effective as one session.
About 60 million Americans age 20 or older are considered obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Their health care costs amount to about $100 billion a year, according to the American Obesity Association.
Active exercise can decrease the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses, but a slow walk can help people stay active while easing the stress on their joints.
Obese adults are more at risk for knee osteoarthritis, which can cause painful stiffness.
For those who are not able to engage in vigorous physical activity, slow walking might be a way to burn a few extra calories a week.
The researchers are trying to expand on the idea that walking at a more leisurely pace puts less stress on a person’s lower body.
For each pound of weight lost, the knee will experience a major reduction in load during daily activities, according to the results of a study published in the July issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
The authors suggest that this may be clinically meaningful in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis.
The most important modifiable risk factor for the development and progression of OA is obesity. Weight loss reduces the risk of symptomatic knee OA, and for obese patients with knee OA, weight loss and exercise are recommended by both the American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism.
The results indicate that each pound of weight lost will result in a significant reduction in the load exerted on the knee per step during daily activities.
Added over thousands of steps per day, a reduction of this magnitude would appear to be clinically meaningful.
The authors suggest that weight loss may improve motion and reduce demand on muscles to provide stability.
“The message is, get out and walk” The group, America on the Move encourages walking and small cutbacks in calories to lose weight.
Any speed is fine. Some speeds are better than others, but get out and do it.
For those who are unable to walk, swimming is an excellent form of aerobic activity with low impact on joints and soft tissue.
Study after study show that numerous patients awaiting hip surgeries were able to cancel them after 8 weeks of aqua therapy.
It’s essential that we stress to our children the necessity of daily aerobic activity to maintain health.
This article was originally published July 11, 2005 in The St. Tammany News.