Walking Builds Better Heart Health

We should just stop talking on the hill, but we don’t. Instead, it takes us longer to finish our sentences as our breathing becomes more intentional. The hill is less than a half mile from our house and there’s no way around it if Ava and I are going for a long walk together.

We’re in pretty good shape, Ava runs marathons and I walk 20,000 steps every day, but this hill always kicks our butts. It’s long and steep. It also might be the most valuable part of our walk.

One of the great benefits of walking is better heart health. And, not just for the future, but also for TODAY! That hill is literally protecting our hearts for several hours after we finish the walk.

I’m about to throw some medical research and personal anecdotes at you that could feel like advice. I’m not a doctor and it would dumb AND WRONG for me to pretend to be a medical expert. If you are beginning your fitness journey you should get a physical first and talk with YOUR DOCTOR.

I’ve been on my fitness journey for years and I get a physical every year. I want to make certain that what I’m doing is working and if there’s anything I’m doing that’s no longer safe. You should do the same.

If you’re doing The 30 Day New Year Fitness Challenge your heart is thanking you. Research tells us that regular exercise plays a role in cardiovascular health. The results can include lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, and better blood sugar regulation.

Right before I started my fitness journey my cholesterol was high and I could feel my blood sugar wasn’t right. Ten years later both are fine according to my most recent physical. Those results continue to fuel my on-going fitness motivation.

But, we already know about the long-term cardiovascular benefits of exercise. It’s the new research that’s pretty cool indicating there are also IMMEDIATE heart benefits. This new research shows that exercise provides ADDED protection for two to three hours after you finish.

There’s science behind this that I don’t fully understand. If you’d like to check it out, Harvard Medical School published an easyish to read two page summary HERE.

This article actually uses walking as the example of the kind of exercise that gets you these results. Of course, how long you walk and the intensity of your pace matter. In other words, walking around the family room searching for the TV remote doesn’t count.

Walking for 30 minutes seems to be the sweet spot regarding how long…although it’s OK to do that in three 10-minute chunks.

The research also indicates this immediate heart protection needs at least a moderate walking pace. The article even defines four different paces:

  1. Easy – you could sing at this pace
  2. Moderate – you can talk in full sentences, but your breathing is more noticeable
  3. Brisk – full sentences are still possible, but you need to take more breaths
  4. Fast – you can only talk in phrases because you are slightly breathless

The takeaway is that all steps have some fitness value, but some steps have added value if there’s more intensity.

Ava and I should probably stop talking as we are walking up that hill, but we don’t. As we near the top our conversation morphs from full sentences into short phrases. It’s not fun, but after seeing this new research I’d like to think that’s our heart’s way of saying “THANK YOU”.


If you don’t have a daily step goal, I want to challenge you to give it a try and create a fitness habit. I call it The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. This free guide will walk you through how to get started. It’s very easy.

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.


(By the way…if you use the links in this article to make a purchase this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

This blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.

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