4:33 PM EDT, May 25, 2011
"People try all these insane diets," then give up when they don't lose weight and don't feel any better, says Vik Khanna, executive director of Health and Wellness for Mercy Health Ministry in Chesterfield, Mo.
Instead, Khanna recommends baby steps to fitness — as in walking.
"It's one of the things that is very underrated," Khanna says. "Walking is the universal best exercise. It's accessible. Most of us can do it into our 80s and 90s."
Not only will you feel better, you can also improve your memory and maybe even live longer. How's that for multitasking?
A study published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that regular walking improved older people's ability to remember things. Also, says Khanna, "studies show that older adults who walk faster live longer."
So, once you get up and start putting one foot in front of the other, then pick up your speed.
"The problem is, most of us stroll," Khanna says. Going faster will make you feel even better, and you might lose weight.
Walking at 2 mph, a 150-pound person burns about 171 calories, taking more than 20 hours to lose a pound.
At 3 mph, it would take 15 hours to lose a pound.
Just one hour of walking at 3 mph, and you'll burn off the effects of a 99-cent bag of M&M's.
Getting off the couch …
Start with a slow walk, just a few minutes a day.
Increase time gradually.
Then walk faster.
Make a game out of it by spotting an object and speeding toward it.
Let breathing return to normal then speed up again.
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