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Dr. Joel Kahn: March in place whenever and whenever you can — an easy, effective fitness routine

By January 22, 2022Deadline Detroit

Twice-monthly health columns are written by a practicing cardiologist, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Bingham Farms. He’s an author and has appeared on national TV, including “Dr. Oz” and “The Doctors Show.”

By Joel Kahn

Maintaining fitness has been a challenge these past two years as the pandemic shut gyms for many months and then limited occupancy. Many of my patients are off-track on their goals to get in thousands of steps a day as part of a smart lifestyle.

Marching in place is an easy, science-supported way for almost everyone to meet health and fitness goals. Here’s guidance to get marching and fit in 2022.

Benefits: Walking in place can burn up to 200 calories an hour, even if spread over the day in small time periods. Just five to ten minutes an hour of marching can exceed a total of an hour of daily marching. Boost the benefit by swinging your arms, which can burn 300 calories an hour or more

Marching in place is free, easy, low impact, doesn’t need special equipment like a treadmill and can be done anywhere. Plus, it can fit the busiest of schedules.

 How: Wear comfortable shoes — not heels or bedroom slippers! Move the arms to add cardiovascular fitness. Lift your legs a bit higher than normal (think of a marching band).

Set a goal of at least 4,000 to 5,000 daily steps, and add marching in place as an extra way to achieve that. If you have a heart rate monitor, aiming for 50%-60% of a “maximal” heart rate is a good target. A formula often used is to subtract your age from 220 for a target heart rate.

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Wear comfortable shoes, swing the arms and lift legs a bit more than usual. (Photo: DepositPhotos)

Add light hand weights to upgrade your simple workout. Grabbing cans of beans or corn can be a simple add-on if you don’t have hand weights.

► When: Anywhere and any time is suitable, but using certain down times is often easiest. If you watch TV, march during commercials. If you’re talking on the phone, get up and march. While cleaning dishes at the sink, add in marching. If you are stuck at a computer or doing something else that requires prolonged sitting like driving a truck, set your phone to alarm once an hour to march in place in a safe place for five minutes.

The science: Researchers in Japan selected 31 frail older adults and asked 18 to march in place for 20 minutes a day over 12 weeks. Compared to the 13 control subjects, the marchers demonstrated improved mobility and quality-of-life scores.

Improving health and fitness is at the top of many January resolution lists. If you begin marching in place — starting today — you can improve your fitness and be ready for the walking paths and trails this spring.

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