Q: I really enjoy walking, but does it provide any real health benefits?
A: If walking works for you, it works for me. Truly, fitness starts with finding something you won’t mind doing. Walking has many hidden benefits that most people overlook because it’s low impact and so easy to get started. Most people falsely assume that in order to be healthy and prevent disease, they need to perform rigorous cardio activity, but this is not always the case. Studies indicate that frequent walkers have lower rates of heart attacks and strokes than those who don’t walk as often, as well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Walking is also is great for keeping the weight off. Most people would never think taking a 30-minute walk during your lunch break or after work could do much good, but that walk can slice off anywhere from 100 – 200 calories, depending on your pace and how much you weigh. An extra 100 – 200 calories burned each day can go a long way to prevent weight gain and keep you staying slim, especially if it’s more than you’ve done before. Another benefit of this simple exercise is that it keeps your bones strong and dense as you age, helping to prevent osteoporosis. Although it has many physical benefits, walking can do wonders for mental health as well. Going for a walk can be very relaxing and can easily lighten your mood and improve mental clarity when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. As you can see, adding a brisk, 30-minute walk to your daily routine can do wonders for your health in the long run. But, if you can’t find a stretch of 30 minutes, go smaller and move whenever you can. Stringing three 10-minute bouts together throughout the day can be equally impactful. You simply can’t go wrong with this easy, enjoyable exercise that you can do anywhere at anytime.
Q: Should I supplement individual amino acids?
A: It is a common misconception that supplementing individual amino acids such as leucine or tryptophan will stimulate protein synthesis and provide additional health benefits. In fact, there is a lack of evidence to substantiate these claims. Rather, this sort of supplementation is counter-productive for several reasons. First, individual amino acids compete for absorption carriers; thus, taking one amino acid in abundance may inhibit the absorption of others. Secondly, amino acids are actually preferentially absorbed as small peptides over individual amino acids. Individuals can adequately meet needs by consuming a variety of protein-rich foods that fit within the recommended daily allowance for protein.
Joe Nguyen is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Norwalk. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at JoeN@anytimefitness.com.