Friday, July 08, 2005

Slow walking better than brisk walking?

Slow walking may be prescription for obese

Researchers: Strolling burns more calories, reduces injury risk
Now researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have better news for walkers: Strolling can help obese adults burn more calories per mile than brisk walking and might even lower the risk of arthritis and injuries to the joints than picking up the pace.

Doctoral student Ray Browning and his colleagues studied 20 men and women of normal weight and 20 considered obese as they walked set distances at different speeds. They found the obese people burned more calories walking at a slower pace for a longer time than walking at a faster speed.

It might be just the incentive needed for people turned off by the traditional advice to take at least five brisk walks, 30 minutes at a time, per week.


Alan said...

I know that they usually have signs posted in gyms (and articles in health magazines) about the optimal heart rates for exercise. Lower heart rates are best for optimizing the number of calories you burn, but pusing past that range puts you into the cardiovascular range. You don't burn calories at as high of a rate, but you still are doing pretty well. Additionally, you're getting more benefits than just burning calories (i.e. increasing oxygen flow, building muscle, etc.).

So I guess slow walking would be better than brisk walking if your only goal is to burn as many calories as possible.

Theo said...

Well, I think you're right, but this *particular* example was focussed on obese people. Apparently the dynamics of how they walk are very different than "normal" people.

For example, a normal person with weights strapped around his ankles and walking with the larger stride of an obese person will burn 100% to 150% of the calories that he would burn normally. However, an obese person carrying around the same weight and doing the same stride somehow only burns 10% more than the normal person.

So there's something about obese bodies that changes how they burn energy. I think they're saying in these OBESE examples, walking burned more calories. In normal people this was not the case though.

They also talk about people who push themselves too hard can cause injury that can be counterproductive. An injury can lead to even less physical activity, so in the long run the walking can be a bigger health benefit.