Best Walking Workouts to Beat Metabolic Syndrome

Enjoy Brisk Walking or Walking with Poles to Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

Nordic Walking Couple at Lake
Nordic Walking Couple. Scott Markewitz/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty

Can you walk away from your risk of metabolic syndrome, often called pre-diabetes? Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms and includes having a large waist, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high trigylcerides and low HDL cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome increases your risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and early death. The good news is that studies have shown that lifestyle changes can reduce your risks.

Brisk Walking Reduces Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome by 50% by picking up the pace rather than just increasing the time you spend walking. A study of over 10,000 people followed for over 10 years found that brisk walking and jogging significantly reduced their risk of developing metabolic syndrome, while those who walked at a leisurely pace for over an hour a day had no decrease in risk. The study concluded that the intensity of physical activity was important in granting the risk reduction.
How to Walk Faster

The take-home message is that you will get more health benefits out of your time spent in physical activity if you increase the intensity to moderate or vigorous. While you may be logging 10,000 steps per day on your pedometer, you should spend at least 30 minutes per day (about 4000 of those 10,000 steps) at a faster pace. Take a brisk walk during your breaks or lunch - get up to a speed where you are breathing faster.

When you walk the dog, give both you and your pooch a swifter spin around the neighborhood.
More: 30-Minute Walking Workout for Diabetes

Many advanced pedometers and activity monitors report your aerobic steps in addition to total steps. It's time to pay attention to that reading.
More: Beyond 10,000 Steps per Day - Moderate Intensity Matters

Use Nordic Walking Poles to Beat Metabolic Syndrome

Walking with fitness walking poles -- Nordic walking -- can boost your walking workout and help you get your heart rate into the moderate-intensity activity zone. A study from Finland, where the sport was popularized, found it had benefits for middle-aged men who were overweight or obese. They tested the men for signs of metabolic syndrome and impaired glucose metabolism. They then assigned them to a group who engaged in Nordic walking for 12 weeks, resistance training, or a non-exercising control group.

The Nordic walking group had decreases in leptin and serum chemerin, indicating improved metabolism and decreased signs of metabolic syndrome. They also had better improvements in body fat percentage, fatty liver index (FLI), and total and LDL cholesterol concentrations than the resistance training group or the control group.

To get the best walking pole workout, you should study how to use the poles properly. Good poling technique will help open up your chest and achieve better walking posture.

But the best health and weight loss benefits of the poles are that you will get a higher heart rate without walking faster or feeling more exertion. You are able to get into the fat-burning zone at your walking speed.
How to Start Nordic Walking

Venojärvi M, Wasenius N, Manderoos S, Heinonen OJ, Hernelahti M, Lindholm H, Surakka J, Lindström J, Aunola S, Atalay M, Eriksson JG. "Nordic walking decreased circulating chemerin and leptin concentrations in middle-aged men with impaired glucose regulation." Annals of Medicine 2012 Oct 30. (doi: 10.3109/07853890.2012.727020) [Epub ahead of print]

Adam Hoegsbro Laursen, Ole P Kristiansen, Jacob Louis Marott, Peter Schnohr, Eva Prescott1. "Intensity versus duration of physical activity: implications for the metabolic syndrome. A prospective cohort study." BMJ Open 2012;2:e001711 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001711

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