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HEALTH REPORT – June 19, 2002: Walking - 2002-06-17

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Researchers agree that intense physical exercise is not the only way to gain better health. Studies show that walking several times a week can lower the risk of many diseases. They include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, bone loss, arthritis and depression. Walking also can help you lose weight.

Fast walking is good for the heart. It lowers the blood pressure. It raises the amount of good cholesterol in the blood. Researchers say walking can reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack by as much as fifty percent.

Studies have shown that walking for thirty minutes a day can delay and possibly prevent the development of Type Two Diabetes. It can prevent diabetes among people who are overweight and at risk for the disease.

Walking strengthens the muscles and builds up the bones to which they are attached. Studies show that women who walked and took calcium decreased their risk of developing osteoporosis or thinning of the bones. Walking also helps ease the pain of arthritis in areas where bones are joined by strengthening the muscles around the bones.

Walking several times a week is a good way to control your weight and even lose body fat. Studies show it also helps ease depression, feelings of extreme sadness.

Experts say walking is one of the safest ways to exercise. There is a low risk of injuries. So it is good for people who are starting an exercise program for the first time and for older people.

A walking program is easy to start. You should wear loose clothes and good shoes. Shoes designed for walking are best.

You should stretch the muscles in your arms, legs, and back before and after you walk. Stretching is an important part of any exercise program. It helps prevent injury and muscle pain.

How fast should you walk? You should be breathing hard while you are walking. Yet, you should be able to talk. Let your arms move back and forward at your sides while you walk.

There are no rules to starting a walking program. You may walk short distances. Or you may walk up hills to strengthen your leg muscles. Health experts say you can gain the most from a walking program if you walk about five kilometers an hour for thirty minutes a day. You should do this about five times a week.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Lawan Davis.