Q: Do I really need to do extreme workouts to get in good shape? Those infomercials on TV make it seem that only gut-busting, joint-slamming calisthenics do the job.
FRANK L., EAST LANSING, MICH.
A: Ever since Jack LaLanne first broadcast his fitness show and Jane Fonda videos urged us to feel the burn, fitness crazes have swept across North America like a Zamboni over an ice rink, promising to shine up your surface by grinding you down.
We, on the other hand, advocate a much easier-to-stick-to approach to physical activity: walking. Walking can be easygoing or intense; its something everyone knows how to do, and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
How does our often-recommended 10,000 steps a day stack up to those extreme workouts in terms of improved health, a longer life and a younger RealAge? We think it comes out light years ahead, and heres why:
The psychological benefits of a daily walking routine: Drop-out rates in intense programs are extremely high, and that builds discouragement. Establishing and sticking to a daily walking routine fuels self-esteem.
The aches-and-pains-conquering benefits: Stretching out your stride, keeping your posture erect and your upper-body motion fluid loosens up stiff joints, muscles and tendons. Those intense workouts can lead to injury, joint and muscle pain.
The weight-loss benefits: Walking is a longer-duration, lower-intensity exercise that can burn more fat than a short, intense workout.
The cardiovascular benefits: Youll reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. And for folks who already have high blood pressure or heart disease, its a safe way to improve your cardio system.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.