Walking for great health
Walking is an excellent form of exercise however , it is often overlooked.
To reap all the health benefits, try walking for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly.
Moderate activities like walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or physical activity.
Health benefits of walking include:
- increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
- reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
- stronger bones and improved balance
- increased muscle strength and endurance
- reduced body fat.
Just 30 minutes a day:
If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions.
Incorporate physical activity into your daily life:
Making physical activity a part of your daily routine is one of the most effective ways to maintain and improve overall health
Some suggestions to build walking into your daily routine include:
Take the stairs instead of the elevator (for at least part of the way).
Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home.
Walk (don’t drive) to the local store.
Walk the dog (or your neighbor’s dog)
Make walking part of your routine
Try to make walking a part of your daily routine. It takes 21 days to create a habit! Start by walking at the same time each day. You use the same amount of energy, no matter what time of day you walk, so pick a time that is most convenient for you. You may find that asking someone to walk with you will help make it more enjoyable, and you are more likely to stick to it if you have fun. Some people find that keeping an activity diary or log also makes it easier, and tracking your progress helps to keep you motivated.
A comfortable intensity for walking
Plan to cover a set distance each day and monitor how long it takes you to walk that distance. As your fitness level improves, you will be able to walk a longer distance and use more energy.
Our bodies tend to get used to physical activity, so continue to increase your intensity.
You can increase the intensity of your walks by:
- walking up hills
- walking with hand weights
- increasing your walking speed gradually by including some quick walking
- increasing the distance you walk quickly before returning to a moderate walking pace
- walking for longer periods
Warm up and cool down:
The best way to warm up is to start by walking slowly. Begin your walk at a leisurely pace to give your muscles time to warm up, and then pick up the speed. Afterwards, gently stretch your leg muscles – paying particularly attention to your calves, thighs and hamstrings.
Stretches should be held for about 20 seconds. If you feel any pain, ease off the stretch. Don’t bounce or jolt, or you could overstretch muscle tissue and cause microscopic tears, which lead to muscle stiffness and tenderness.
Keep in mind that making a few small changes today, can make all the difference in your health tomorrow!
We love hearing from you! Let us know how you were able to incorporate walking into your daily routine.