We’ve all heard that walking is very important for your health. Oprah even lost weight by taking a walk a day back in the nineties. She was a big fan of walks. However, we often fall short of walking enough to achieve excellent health.
Getting Started with Walking
Many people don’t start because they don’t plan their walk into their schedule. They also have this idea that they should be walking long distances to get started. However, this can set you up for failure. Walking is one of the easiest and most enjoyable forms of exercises. You can start simply with a great pair of athletic shoes, comfortable clothing and a desire to improve your health.
Start slowly. I’ve made the mistake of setting very lofty goals and overdoing it in the beginning. When your start out, commit to walking for ten minutes out and ten minutes back in any direction. This will reduce the chance of injuring yourself from overusing muscles. You want to build them up gradually.
Once you are comfortable with twenty minutes of walking, increase your time walking by five minutes. In the beginning, your can vary the speed and find one that is comfortable for you. Try to choose a speed that is a little challenging, but not so difficult that your are getting winded. You should walk fast enough to elevate your heart rate, but not so fast that your are gasping for air.
The most difficult thing in starting a new exercise routine is making it a habit. In the beginning, aim for at least five days per week. Don’t worry too much about the distance or the pace. Ensure that walking daily becomes a habit. That will set you up for success. Once your have cultivated the habit, your will want to evaluate your progress and set some goals for yourself.
How your walk is as important as how long your walk. If your are walking in a slouched position, your will be reinforcing that slouchy posture. This can lead to long term health problems down the road. When you are walking think of elongating your body. Hold your head up and keep your eyes forward. Your shoulders should be down, with your back relaxed. As your walk, tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks as your fall into a natural stride.
The more that you walk with good posture, the better your posture will become. You’ll start to strengthen the core muscles that hold your upright and your will notice that your don’t need to slouch as much. It is an inexpensive way to improve your posture and appearance!
As your walks become longer, you’ll want to ensure that your aren’t tightening up your muscles. Stretching will ensure that your feel great and assist in injury prevention.
You may want to do some warm up and flexibility drills to get your blood flowing before your begin walking.
Walking for Health Benefits
The daily recommended guidelines for general health are to walk for thirty minutes per day. However, to improve cardiovascular fitness, your should walk 20-30 minutes at a very fast pace. This faster pace will have your breathing harder, but not gasping for air. This fast pace does not include the warm up and cool down.
Walking for weight loss requires a longer amount of time. If your goal is weight loss, your need a minimum of forty-five to sixty minutes per day at a moderate to brisk pace. Increasing your speed will burn more calories in the same amount of time. However, make sure that your increase your pace and mileage slowly to prevent injury.
Tracking Your Progress
You can record your mileage and distance in a spreadsheet manually, but if you have some extra money and want to make your fitness fun and convenient, using a fitness tracker can help your chart your progress. A pedometer will track steps for you. Start with a goal of 10,000 steps per day.
Fitness tracker, such as the FitBit can be a great motivating tool to show your where your need to add more activity throughout your day. With a FitBit, you can join in different challenges and contests with your friends. It can bring out your competitive nature and help your really put your fitness on track!
Benefits of Walking
Walking won’t always appeal to you. Some dreary days, you’ll look over at the sofa and television set and think, I’d much rather curl up and watch a movie. However, if your keep the benefits of walking at the top of your mind, it will help to motivate you to continue.
A daily practice of regular, brisk walking can help to:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent heart disease
- Prevent type 2 Diabetes
- Prevent high blood pressure
- Strengthen muslces
- Strengthen bones
- Improve overall mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
The more that your walk, the more benefits you’ll notice. Additionally, the faster, farther and more frequent your walk, the greater the benefits that you’ll notice.
Sometimes, you need to motivate yourself. The weather could be bad, or you had a bad day at work. There are a few things that your can do to get motivated to walk.
- Make walking enjoyable. Ask a friend to join you. I would often take my dog on walks when he was alive and enjoyed his company. Since my dog died, I have been walking with neighbors, and taking some of their dogs out. It is a win-win as the dogs love to get out and about in the neighborhood. You could also join a walking group or listen to music while you walk.
- Vary your routine. Explore different paths, walk on different roads in your neighborhood. Make sure to tell your loved ones where your’ll be walking and to walk in safe, well-lit areas.
- Don’t Stress Out When You Miss a Day. If your find that you are skipping your daily walks, don’t give up. It can take a while to create the habit of walking every day. Just get yourself back on track. Remind yourself of the health benefits. Try to remember how great your feel when your do include walking in your daily routine. Then get back on track. You’ll be glad that your did!