Home Health Tips The Incredible Benefits of Walking and Zone 2 Exercise!

The Incredible Benefits of Walking and Zone 2 Exercise!

The Incredible Benefits of Walking and Zone 2 Exercise!

While High Intensity Interval Training is all the rage these days, simple brisk walking has some huge health and longevity benefits!

A newly published study of more than 400,000 adults found that 10 minutes of brisk walking per day was associated with longer life expectancy, and brisk walkers have up to 20 years longer life expectancy than those who walk slowly! Brisk walking is defined as walking at either more than 100 steps per minute or at least 3 miles per hour.

Benefits of Zone 2 Exercise

For many people, brisk walking is an ideal form of Zone 2 Exercise. The training intensity can be divided into 5 zones as follows:

Zone 1 – 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate

Zone 2 – 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate

Zone 3 – 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate

Zone 4 – 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate

Zone 5 – 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate

Each zone offers benefits, but Zone 2 offers several powerful health and lifespan advantages:

Increased number of mitochondria – the mitochondria are the energy producing organelles in all your cells!

Increased mitochondrial efficiency – meaning your mitochondria can produce more energy per unit of fat or carbohydrate burned!

Increased “metabolic flexibility”, which is the ability to use multiple different types of fuels for energy production, including fat, carbohydrates and lactate.

Lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, which puts pressure on your heart and cardiovascular system

Lower risk of injury than higher intensity exercises

Improved insulin resistance correlated with improved fat burning ability

Improved ability to run/cycle longer

How do you reap the benefits of Zone 2 Exercise?

To get the most out of zone 2 training, get a minimum of 150 minutes per week, split into 2 – 4 sessions per week. Each session lasts a minimum of 30 minutes and preferably 45 minutes or longer.

The Goldilocks of Zone 2 Exercise

For many, Zone 2 will feel easy and they will tend to work too hard to reap the rewards. There are two ways to make sure you’re exercising at the right intensity: checking your heart rate or using the talk test!

There are many options for heart rate monitoring and for walking wrist, arm and chest strap monitors they all work well.

To use heart rate measurement, you must determine your zone 2 minimum and maximum heart rate.

Start estimating your maximum heart rate using one of these three formulas:

220 – Age – most common and most commonly used formula for maximum heart rate

207 – (.7 X Age) – more accurate formula, adapted for people over 40

211 – (.64 X Age) – slightly more precise formula for very active people

Once you’ve estimated your maximum heart rate, multiply it by 0.6 and 0.7 to determine your zone 2 training heart rate range. For example, if your maximum heart rate is 172, your heart rate range in zone 2 is 103 – 120 beats per minute!

Then practice for 30 – 90 minutes and keep your heart rate in this zone the entire time – higher is NOT better!

The 2nd method is to use the talk test† You should practice at an intensity where you can comfortably talk in short sentences, BUT you should get a little out of breath if you talk continuously!

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