By Jon Nyatawa
Summer Reporter (The Purdue Exponent)
Walking slower could be the best strategy for obese people who are trying to get into shape, according to a recent University of Colorado study.
And although walking isn’t the most intense way to improve fitness, Ray Browning, a doctoral student and lead author of the research, said the study’s results showed two major upsides.
“By walking slower, there’s a slight increase in the amount of calories burned per mile, and it reduces the stress on the joints,” he said.
Specifically, the research showed that if obese people walk at 2 mph as opposed to 3 mph, the loads on their knee joints will be reduced by 25 percent. Carol Hostetler, a dietician from the Purdue Health Center, said she often suggests that her patients walk to lose weight because other exercise activities are looked down on.
“For some people, the word ‘exercise’ is often associated with torture,” she said. “We try to get people to be aware of all of their options.”
In addition to walking, obese people looking to lose weight can also participate in low-impact cardiovascular activities — like cycling or water aerobics. Walking may not be the most attractive or exciting weight loss strategy, but Browning said even the small action of getting off the bus one stop early and walking the rest of the way can be effective.
However, the walking-slower strategy isn’t as effective for people who aren’t obese and just want to stay in shape, said Browning.
“It wouldn’t hurt to walk slower, but if they are looking for a better physique, there aren’t too many benefits,” he said.