These days we are getting more and more statistics about the dangers of obesity. Research by a group of Oxford University experts has found that even moderate obesity can be dangerous. The findings were based on data from nearly a million people worldwide.
To be considered obese you must have a body mass index (BMI) above 30. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres.
A healthy zone is BMI 20-25.
Moderate obesity is BMI 30-39.
Severe obesity is BMI 40-50.
The bad news is that moderate obesity reduces your lifespan by about three years and severe obesity by about ten years.
Dr Gary Whitlock of Oxford University who led the study of obesity said: “Excess weight shortens human lifespan. In countries like Britain and America, weighing a third more than the optimum shortens lifespan by about three years. For most people, a third more than the optimum means carrying twenty to thirty kg of excess weight. If you are becoming overweight or obese, avoiding further weight gain could well add years to your life.”
So what to do about it? You must start by looking at your diet. Reducing calorie intake is a must. If possible have a lifestyle change to eating fresh vegetables, lean meat and oily fish. But exercise is also essential and a walking fitness program is the way to go. If you are not used to exercise start slow and work up to a mile or so a day as soon as you feel you are able.
Once you can walk a mile at a reasonable speed look at how you are doing it. This could be described as moderate exercise. But you must know what moderate is. A US team has defined moderate walking speed. They concluded that you need to take one hundred steps a minute for half an hour to achieve a moderately intense workout for your heart. Simon Marshall, lead researcher said: “Because health benefits can be achieved with bouts of exercise lasting at least ten minutes, a useful starting point is to try to accumulate a thousand steps in ten minutes, before building up to three thousand steps in thirty minutes”. These figures were based on tests given to ninety seven healthy adults with an average age of thirty two.
It was also found that a pedometer alone was not enough to gauge exercise as it gave no data of intensity. It should be used in conjunction with a wrist watch to show you how many steps have been taken in a given time.
I am sure this is excellent advice for younger walkers, but Seniors may find it rather a challenge. So I would suggest that those taking a Senior walking fitness program walk as fast they find comfortable. Anything is better than nothing and pushing yourself too hard, particularly at first, is never a good idea.
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