Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

February 2012 Wellness Tip

Walking as Aerobic Activity?

Walking is easy to do, no special equipment is needed, and it can be done almost home or here on campus. To get aerobic benefit, you must walk briskly – fast enough to make your pulse and breathing increase, but not so fast that you can’t talk comfortably.

Aerobic fitness means increasing how well the body uses oxygen, which depends on the condition of the heart, lungs, and muscles. Aerobic activity can be described in three intensities: light, moderate, and vigorous. When people do moderate-intensity activities, like walking briskly, they notice a faster heartbeat.

The goal of aerobic fitness is to increase the amount of oxygen that goes to the heart and muscles, which allows them to work longer. If the activities are done regularly and raise the heart rate for an extended period of time, fitness can be improved. It's recommend that adults try to do moderate aerobic activity for at least 2½ hours a week.

Some people start by walking daily during lunch or after work. Others start more gradually, with a 15- to 30-minute walk every other day. You can add up exercise time over the course of a day or week. Walking 15 minutes, 3 times a day is roughly equivalent, benefit-wise, to walking 45 minutes, once a day.

You can increase your steps in simple ways. These suggestions can get you started:

Add a few extra steps to your everyday activities:

• Park farther than usual from your workplace (or get off the bus before your stop).

• Take the stairs rather than the elevator for one or two floors.

• Set an alarm on your work computer to alert you to get up and move around at least once an hour.

• Walk instead of drive for short trips:  to work, a friend's house, a place for lunch, a nearby store.

•  When you meet with someone or visit with a friend, suggest taking a walk instead of staying inside.

• Find a new area to walk in. Allow yourself some extra time in case this walk takes longer than your usual route:

•  Around your neighborhood. See some places you rarely see from your car. Meet some neighbors.

• Around a whole park. Try pathless areas.

• A mall. The indoor track at the Alumni Sports & Fitness Center or the outdoor track within Sponaugle-Williamson Field.

• Try the walking routes of various distances around F&M and environs that can be found here.

• Walk at various times of day. Use “transition times” (time between activities when you don’t have to be anywhere) to get out and walk, such as:

 - After work, when you might sit in front of the television.

 -  First thing in the morning. See a part of the day you normally might miss.

 -  During your lunch break. Ask a co-worker to join you for a walk.

• Walk with others:

  -  Ask family members, friends, and co-workers to join you. Set goals together.

  -  Join a walking group or club.

  -  Set a goal to take part in an organized fitness walk.

  - Walk a dog every day.

  - Plan family outings around walks together. Being physically active with kids sets an example they’ll follow as they grow older.

Finally, you may want to check out the HealthMedia Stride and HealthMedia Move, online programs personally tailored at the Highmark Blue Shield site,, after logging into your Member Account.  Click on the "Improve Your Health" tab at the top and on "Improve Your Health" on the left sidebar.  Click on "Get Active" and choose either the "Walk Pain Free" or "Stay Active" option.  Click on "Digital Coaching" to access a list of HealthMedia programs, which include an online consultation, suggested personal plan, resource tools and check-in communications.

Cindi Dinger, on behalf of the Wellness Committee