Walking for Fitness

Mon, March 16, 2015 | Recreation

Exercise is clearly a key to fitness. But what hasn't been clear is whether the intensity of your workouts mattered. Researchers now think they have the answer: Exercising vigorously makes a positive difference.

Studies have shown that walking just 30 minutes a day can significantly lower your risk of premature death. High-intensity training can also reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress levels. Walking for fitness can help people with type 2 diabetes control their disease.

According to a study published March 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, obese people who exercised briskly for 40 minutes per day, four days per week, significantly improved not only their cardiovascular health, but also lost weight and reduced their blood sugar levels. In comparison, those who exercised at lower intensity improved their health and lost weight, but didn't reduce their blood sugar level. "Improvement at the higher intensity, just walking briskly on a treadmill, was substantially better," says Robert Ross, PhD, lead author of the study and an exercise physiologist at the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kinston, Ontario. "Participants were surprised at how easy it was to get to the higher intensity."

Intensity is measured by how hard a particular physical activity makes the cardiovascular system work, and it differs from individual to individual based on their level of fitness. For someone who isn't fit, a brisk walk is enough to raise the heart rate to the optimal level for improving cardiovascular health. For someone who is fit, it takes a jog to get them to the ideal level, Ross says.

Exercising at any intensity is good, whether it be a slower walk or brisk walk but this study shows that if you want to improve all three- your waistline, your fitness level, and your blood sugar- then high intensity is your ticket!

Bella Vista Village has several fine trails to walk and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time! The Loch Lomond walking trail, which is located below the Loch Lomond Dam, off of Glasgow Road, is nearly 3,300 feet of paved surface level trail. Blowing Springs Park, off of Dartmoor Road, offers 6.3 miles of natural surface trails. These trails are rolling contour trails designed to be used by pedestrians and mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels.

Lake Bella Vista walking trail is just outside the Bella Vista city limits on Highway 71 and spans 1.75 paved level walking surface and loops around Lake Bella Vista.

The walking trails at Tanyard Creek Nature Trail are currently under repair and reconstruction after natural erosion and flood damage forced this area to be closed to the public. Construction is expected to allow reopening of this popular trail area later this year.

Bella Vista Village POA and the city of Bella Vista, along with representatives from Alta Planningand Design, have scheduled a public meeting to be held at Riordan Hall on Tuesday, April 14 at 6:30pm. An update and report on the continuing planning and trail building in Bella Vista is on the meeting agenda. Plan to attend and be informed!

If walking and exercising in the great outdoors is not your cup of tea, the Fitness Centers at Branchwood Recreation Center and Riordan Hall are available for your use and exercising needs.