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June 24, 2015

Walking: Simple exercise with powerful benefits

A study in the journal Respiratory Research found that after three months of regular walking using poles (called Nordic or ski walking) people with COPD were healthier in several ways. They had less shortness of breath anxiety and depression. They were able to walk more, stand for longer periods ans sit less during the day. Even people who were using supplemental oxygen were able to walk with poles. Talk with your doctor before beginning a walking program and ask if you need oxygen.

To make walking fun, try these suggestions: 

1. Try out a set of walking poles. According to the walking study, patients were able to use the poles with comfort and ease. Using your arms and legs are also good ways to boost fitness.
2. Clip a “step counter,” or pedometer, onto your hip. This simple device, found at sporting goods stores, counts how many steps you take. Wear it for a few days to see how many steps you normally take in a day. Then very gradually increase your steps. For instance, if you are taking only about 2,000 steps a day, set a goal of 2,100 steps a day. Keep increasing your steps a little each week.
3. Start out slowly. Even five minutes of walking is better than sitting all day. Listen to your body and stop if you fell out of breath or dizzy. 
4. Keep it up. To get the most fitness benefit, get in a short walking session at least three times a week.
5. Stay inside. Choose indoor walking, such as at a mall or gym, when air quality or weather problems arise.

Regular walking gives you more stamina and strength for daily activities. It’s great for your heart and boosts your mood, too. Stroll to the mailbox, amble around the shopping mall and take on a flight of stairs every now and then. Try might be surprised by the benefits.

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