The Healthy Heart Walking Workout
Do It for Your Heart
Your heart is the single most important muscle in your body, but keeping it in shape doesn't require a fancy gym membership or hours of grueling workouts. Squeezing a few brisk walks into your week is all it takes -- and because heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, you should get moving now. If you're over 40, a walking program can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 40 percent, as well as lower your blood pressure, make your heart pump blood more effectively, and improve your circulation. Studies show that regular aerobic exercise, like walking, also reduces stress and burns fat, says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of New York University's Women's Heart Program.
Our plan is based on the latest recommendations from the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, which suggest two different walking strategies, depending on your fitness level, to help keep you healthy: walking moderately for 30 minutes, five days a week, or striding at a more vigorous pace for 20 minutes, three days a week. First, take the fitness test on the next page, then pick the routine that's right for you. And don't forget to check with your doctor before starting this regimen or any new exercise program.