By Michael Lasalandra, BIDMC Correspondent

If you want to stay fit, lose weight or just feel better mentally, there’s an easy and inexpensive way to do it — go for a daily walk. But who walks more? And where do they walk?

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Several members of BIDMC’s Walking Club recently were asked to wear a pedometer supplied by BIDMC for one day to measure the number of steps they took, and were told to make it a typical day, with instructions not to try to walk any more than on any usual day.

Richard Vellante, 49, executive chef and executive vice president of restaurants at Legal Sea Foods, logged 5,817 steps — or about two miles.

“Walking is not only a necessity for my work, but it also provides me with an alternative means of travel from restaurant to restaurant,” he says. “Many times I choose to walk 15 minutes instead of drive. Fresh air and ‘down time’ help me recharge for a long work day.”

DeShawn Jones, a 12-year-old from Dorchester, reported walking 22,160 steps on his day — more than 10 miles.

“I arrived at school at about 6:50 a.m., and walked around the building a couple of times, before going inside and walking up and down the halls throughout my school day,” he says. “I played football at lunch, practiced basketball after school, and exercised on the treadmill for 45 minutes at night.”

Kristi Cullinane, 36, of Rockland, a stay-at-home mom for three-year-old triplets, said she took 13,092 steps on her day. She says this included 60 minutes of Zumba, grocery shopping and household activities such as laundry, cooking and straightening up her home.

“If I’m not doing something, that means I’m not being as productive as possible,” she says.

Former Red Sox lefthander Bill Lee and his wife, Diana, reported that they each walked just over 15,000 steps on their day to wear the pedometers. This included going for a walk in the hills of Marin County, California, going to the market, the civic center and the library, as well as attending a high school baseball game.

“There should be mandatory pedometer-wearing,” he says. “The competitive nature of mankind would encourage people to walk farther.”

Walking on a regular basis is associated with numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, improving blood pressure and blood sugar levels, enhancing mental well being and lowering the risks of obesity, osteoporosis, breast cancer and diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.

“Walking is an easy way for people to start exercising,” says Dr. Joseph P. Kannam, cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Chief of Cardiology at BIDMC-Needham.

“All you need is a pair of sneakers,” he says. “There are so many benefits.”

Dr. Kannam stresses that the benefits are greatest when the walk is at a brisk pace that leaves the walker flushed or sweaty. “When you are walking briskly, you are going to expend more calories and you are going to get your heart rate going faster,” he says.

He says people should walk briskly for 30 minutes five times a week.

Including steps up hill — up stairs or hills or inclines — is even more beneficial, he says. “But we’re not saying that everyone has to walk up stairs,” he says. “Just get started on a walking program. And don’t use weather as an excuse.”

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted: May 2013


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