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laborers’ district council of western pennsylvania
Health Talk from Marco Machi


Marco Machi



Summer is just about over and autumn is about to begin. No matter what the time of year, it’s a great time to focus on exercise and health. Temperatures will be ideal for outdoor activities, not too hot and not too cold. It’s a great time to get outside and walk. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases — from heart attack and stroke to hip fracture and glaucoma. These may sound like claims on a bottle of snake oil, but they’re backed by major research. Walking requires no prescription, the risk of side effects is very low, and the benefits include:

» Managing your weight. Combined with healthy eating, physical activity is key to any plan for long-lasting weight control. Keeping your weight within healthy limits can lower your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
» Controlling your blood pressure. Physical activity strengthens the heart so it can pump more blood with less effort and with less pressure on the arteries. Staying fit is just as effective as some medications in keeping down blood pressure levels.
» Boosting “good” cholesterol and reducing “bad” cholesterol, which can cause plaque buildup along the artery walls — a major cause of heart attacks.
» Lowering your risk of stroke. Regular, moderate exercise equivalent to brisk walking for an hour a day, five days a week, can cut the risk of stroke in half, according to a Harvard study of more than 11,000 men.
» Avoiding your need for gallstone surgery. Regular walking or other physical activity lowers the risk of needing gallstone surgery by 20% to 31%, found a Harvard study.
» Protecting against hip fracture. Consistent activity diminishes the risk of hip fracture.


The list goes on and on. A steady routine is the most important factor in getting the most out of your exercise program. Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week is recommended. Use these tips to keep you on track:


» During your walks, you should be able to maintain a conversation. If you’re breathing too lightly, increase your pace. If you can’t catch your breath, slow it down.
» Walk around the local area after lunch or dedicate 15 minutes to walking up and down stairs. Climbing is an excellent way to strengthen your heart.
» At night, trade a half hour of TV for a brisk stroll around the block. Take a friend with you for company or get the whole family involved.


Any amount of walking is good, but for the best health results, set a brisk pace and walk for 30 minutes. While the days will be getting cooler, remember to use sun screen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. While UV exposure is usually greatest during the summer season, UV rays reach the earth everyday. So, take steps to protect yourself all year round.