Everywhere you look whether its television, social media, or written publications, there’s an advertisement for a new diet or exercise routine vying for your hard earned dollars. If you desire to lose weight or incorporate daily exercise into your life, it can become overwhelming, costly, and time consuming. If you’re looking for an effective, convenient, and economic way to better your health, look no further than walking.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that doesn’t put too much strain on your joints, hips, knees and back. People who cannot tolerate more vigorous forms of exercise can walk without too much difficulty. Experts say thirty minutes of exercise five times a week, which includes brisk walking is sufficient enough to help you:
Lose or maintain weight
Decrease high blood pressure
Lower blood sugar levels
Encourage heart health
Improve your mood
Prevent chronic disease
If you’re like most people, you have a busy schedule. Walking is one of the most convenient exercises to try because you can do it almost anywhere and it requires no special equipment and little money. Here’s a few suggestions on how to include walking into your busy day:
Use a portion of your lunch break to walk.
It doesn’t matter if your lunch break is an hour or thirty minutes. Take some time to move your body. A ten or twenty minute walk will boost your energy and prevent that sluggish feeling if you’ve eaten a heavy meal.
Home during the day and have an infant or toddler?
Anyone who’s ever tried to exercise while there are small children around knows that it can be a task in futility. They always seem to want to join in on the fun. Don’t fret, grab their stroller or if they’re big enough to walk on their own, go out and get moving.
Try a walking video
There are many walking DVDs available to use if walking outside if not an option, due to the weather or any other circumstance. You can purchase videos which are usually ten dollars or less or borrow them from your local library for free. The beauty of these DVDs is that they are broken down into individual miles. You can complete a 12 minute mile before work and one after dinner if you choose; it’s all up to you.
Get out and see your community
Many cities and suburbs have dedicated walking spaces. Do a little research and check out these areas before your first walk. Some things you might want to consider include, restrooms; trail condition (smooth or pebbly, adequate shade, possible allergens, place to sit and rest). You also want to make sure that the trail isn’t too secluded. Always be mindful of your safety.
A few more things to consider before beginning a walking routine.
- Keep yourself hydrated. No matter how long you intend to walk make sure to drink fluids before, during, and after walking.
- Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes that provide arch support to cushion your feet and absorb shock.
- Warm up and stretch before you walk for five to seven minutes to prepare your muscles for brisk walking. Walking may be low-impact, but you still want to prepare your body.
- Cool down. Walk at a slower pace to decrease your heart rate gradually.
- If you have a smartphone, download a pedometer app to record how many steps you’ve taken and the duration and length of your walks. It helps to have a reminder of your progress to keep you motivated.
- Set realistic goals. 10,000 steps a day is a worthwhile goal, but you don’t have to start there. Start small and work your way up. If you find you can only do 2,000 steps per day at first, that’s a great start. Just keep at it!
- Find a walking companion. Walking alone can be a great time to clear your mind and unwind, but it never hurts to have company. Find someone who’d like to walk with you; the extra support and encouragement is always a plus.
Have you begun a walking routine? Share your experience and any tips you might have.