So you‘ve tried the gym and your DVDs and gadgets are gathering dusk. It’s time to take a walk. Seriously!
If you think walking isn’t intense enough to help you get fit, reconsider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study that says, “Sixty-two percent of Americans are walking 10 minutes or more per week, and walkers are nearly three times more likely to meet exercise recommendations than those who don’t walk.” And walking is free; all you need is good shoes and determination.
So what’s stopping you? According to the experts at American Council on Exercise, “A regular walking program, 30 or more minutes a day, can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, boost bone strength, and burn calories.”
Everyone knows how to walk. Do it alone while you meditate or enjoy the scenery. Or grab a friend and make it social. But get moving.
Here are some tips from American Council on Exercise (ACE) on how to start your own walking routine:
Ready, set, get dressed
One of the best parts of starting a walking routine is that all you need are comfortable clothes and shoes. Layer loose clothes, find a good pair of walking shoes, and get moving!
Slow and steady wins the race
Whether you’re a beginner or an exercise enthusiast, walking offers the flexibility of being able to customize the intensity and time you spend exercising. If you’re just starting out, begin with walking short distances until you build the endurance to go further. Don’t worry about speed, and instead focus on walking at a comfortable pace. You should be able to still carry a conversation while walking, and be able to catch your breath.
Vary the intensity
Once you’ve built up the endurance to walk further and faster, change your regular route to increase the intensity of your walk. If you can walk a few miles with relative ease on a flat course, consider walking hills to help build up your cardiovascular strength and tone your legs at the same time. You can even begin transitioning to a running program, if your fitness level and health allows.
Don’t forget to stretch
No matter how short or long your walk, always remember to warm up before. Walk in place for a few minutes to get your blood flowing, and then perform a few simple stretches for your legs, back, shoulders, and arms. This will help loosen up and tension you may be carrying, and make your walk more enjoyable and effective.