I hate to say “I told you so” but I told you so – Walking is good for you. It’s my preferred form of exercise. Peggy and judy have found lots of studies on the benefits of walking. They asked me to promote it since I’m an expert walker:
Walking (preferably with me)
Gives you a creative lift. A study at Stanford showed a 60% increase in creative output. Researches called the kind of creativity “divergent thinking”, thinking out of the box, looking at many different possibilities. Walking lets out minds wander and this puts us in a good mental state for generating new ideas. (My Human Judy is already a “divergent thinker” . . . to a fault. Her brain hasn’t ever been able to walk a straight line)
Boosts your mood. In one study scientists saw increased energy, good mood, attentiveness and confidence with 12 minutes of walking compared to 12 minutes of sitting. (I like my human to be attentive and obedient)
Walking in nature also reduced repetitive negative thoughts (ruminating).
Improves memory. (You’ll remember that walking helps you)
Just 10 minutes of walking may relieve anxiety and improve mood as well as a workout lasting 45 minutes. (I prefer long walks but I’m all for anything that gets my human in a better mood)
If it’s raining or snowing or blowing you can use a treadmill for a walking workout.
Walking on a treadmill gives you the most benefit if you vary the speed and incline so that your heart rate is raised and lowered. Sort of like walking up and down hills, going fast some times, slow some times. Setting a high incline makes you use more energy to walk, and you can get a good cardiovascular workout without as much strain on your knees (For those of us who have 4 knees that’s important)
Interval training is a way to get the most from a workout. So whether you are outside on a trail or inside on a treadmill here’s how to do intervals. Start with a warm up warm up 5 minutes, then do an incline or speed for 3 minutes a few minutes, then back to level then 1 minute level at a walk, and repeat for about 20 minutes total. (I do interval training with Judy – I run, stop, raise my leg, run some more, stop, sniff, saunter, stop, raise my leg, run, stop, sniff, trot . . .)
Another protocol I often follow, and you can too, is to go as hard as I can for 1 minute, then sniff and walk until I recover, then go again.
Finding your target zone
My target zone is most often a tree or a post. For humans it may be different and here’s how you do it:
Find an online calculator for your target heart rate zone, or use this:
For vigorous exercise, use 70 to 85 percent of your heart rate reserve or HHR
Here is Mayo Clinics formula:
- “Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
- Calculate your resting heart rate by counting your heart beats per minute when you are at rest, such as first thing in the morning. (For the average adult It’s somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute.)
- Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR) – subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
- Multiply your HRR by 0.7 (70 percent). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
- Multiply your HRR by 0.85 (85 percent). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
- These two numbers are your training zone heart rate for vigorous intensity exercise. Your heart rate during exercise should be between these two numbers.”
For example, I’m 6 dogs years old.
Multiply that by 0.7, then add my resting heart rate,
Multiply my heart rate reserve (HHR) by 85% so 82×0.85=69.7 then add resting heart rate so 69.7+65=134.7 which is the high end of my target heart rate or training zone . . .
(I’ve computed my target zone to be 6 trees a minute.)
Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDWE
Canine Dog Walking Expert