When it comes to exercise, the one thing you should strive for, more than anything, is to be consistent. And, one of the easiest exercises you can do with consistency is walking. Not only is walking a simple exercise, it’s also a great way to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself to daily exercise without great inconvenience or expense. And, of course, the benefits of a regular (if not daily) walk are well known and include reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, sleep problems, pain due to arthritis—the list goes on and on—to say nothing of how good and energetic it can make you feel.
Start with a good pair of walking shoes and use thick or padded socks to help prevent blisters. Be safe; always wear bright reflective clothing, and try to stay on sidewalks or pathways. If walking at dusk, dawn, or at night wear reflective clothing, or carry a flashlight. If you must step into the street (hopefully for only a short distance) be sure to walk facing traffic. If it’s a cool day, bundle up in layers to stay warm. Bring your ID, a cell phone, and water. For added motivation, have a regular date with a walking buddy. You can chat, of course, but keep walking briskly so that you become slightly out of breath. And, leave Fido at home; his constant stops to “smell the roses” will only interrupt your workout.
The three “F’s
A few minutes of easy strolling at the start of every walk will help to loosen and warm your muscles and joints. Start with a few 10 to 15 minute walks and then focus on walking farther, faster, and more frequently. How much father, how much faster, and how frequently you walk all depend on your goals. Keep your route interesting by varying it, adding a hill, or increasing your pace with faster “sprints.” From 15 minutes, try pushing yourself to 30 minutes, and then set a goal to walk three miles in 45 minutes. You can do it.
Five more steps to better walking
1. Walk tall with your chest lifted and your shoulders pressed down.
2. Contract your abdominal muscles to help support your lower back.
3. Concentrate on quick steps – your stride length will come naturally.
4. Roll your foot from heel to toe and push off from your toes.
5. Measure your walks against time and not distance.
Easy, right? Why not start today? Then, be consistent with it; put it on the calendar for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…