Why is walking the first type of exercise your doctor recommends? It’s cheap, the risk of injury is extremely low, it can be done almost anywhere, it requires no special equipment except for a good pair of walking shoes, you don’t have to be in great shape to start, and it can be just as beneficial as more intense exercise. It also gets you started and, hopefully, hooked on an exercise program.
If you’re truly a beginner:
- Warm up with gentle stretches.
- Start out at a slow, regular pace, for no more than 10 minutes.
- Find a route where the path is smooth and traffic is light, or walk around the block slowly at first, just to test your muscles.
- Each day, try to walk a little farther and a little faster.
Even as you become more fit, you never have to move on to more strenuous activities. Researchers found that brisk walking is as healthful as more vigorous forms of exercise. So when you want to progress from baby steps to serious walking, plan on a moderate pace for a total of 20 to 30 minutes, four times a week. Remember, this shouldn’t be a stroll in the park. Shoot for a speed of two miles in 30 minutes. A good way to gauge your time is to chart out a two-mile course in your car using the odometer. Or go to a local track.
No matter where, when, or how you walk, remember:
- Lighting and visibility are important for your safety.
- Walking isn’t a fashion show, so wear shoes that match your activity. That means comfortable walking shoes, not street shoes.
- Teach your dog to heel. Having a companion is always fun, but a dog that drags you along on his leash is not fun or healthy.
Want to simply add a few more steps to your routine every day? Make these easy but healthy changes:
- Park farther away at the mall.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
- Walk the golf course instead of taking a cart.
- Spend your coffee break on a walk instead of standing around the water cooler.
- March through your local shopping mall, no matter the weather.
- Walk while you’re on the phone or during television commercial breaks.
Walking is something we do every day. With some tweaks on how you walk and make it a part of your exercise, you are sure to capture all its health benefits for a healthier, better you!