Most of my readers know that I love running as part of my health and fitness routine. I’m not a natural runner, however I do like this form of exercise. You don’t need to be an Olympian or a Marathon runner to keep fit and healthy. Walking is a great form of exercise which has many health benefits, it doesn’t cost anything and most people can do it. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking at least 5 times per week is all you need.
What is Brisk Walking?
You should keep a pace that will get your heart pumping but you can still carry on a conversation – although you may be a little puffed. Even though walking doesn’t seem too strenuous an exercise you still need to get the OK from your doctor if embarking on a new exercise routine.
Just 30 minutes of brisk walking at least 5 times per week is all you need
So what are the benefits of walking?
1. Good for your bones
As walking is a weight-bearing exercise you are literally carrying your weight with you. This will strengthen your bones which helps prevent osteoporosis and also help with your balance and posture.
2. Cardiovascular Fitness
Your heart and lungs will benefit from a brisk walk and your fitness level will improve. This decreases the risk of heart disease and strokes.
3. Management of Hypertension
Walking can reduce high blood pressure
4. Reduces Body Fat
Brisk walking will reduce body fat and increase your muscle strength and fitness endurance. You will be able to walk longer with less stress on your body if you have a regular walking routine. Of course losing body fat means losing weight which decreases your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
5. Stress Management & Mental Health
Walking, or any form of exercise is a great way to assist with stress management and depression or anxiety. You will sleep better and your overall emotional well-being will be improved. You will feel envigorated and energized.
How to Start a Walking Program
This might seem pretty straight forward however if you are serious about become healthy and fit you need to ensure you follow a sensible program. You can’t run if you haven’t walked and you can’t walk briskly if you have been a couch potato.
Here is my guide to starting a regular walking program and walking your way to a healthy and fit lifestyle.
What you will need:
1. Wear comfortable shoes
Invest in a good pair of comfortable walking shoes with arch support. Blisters are a sure fire way to give up after a few days so make sure you make comfort a priority.
2. Find a Walking Buddy
It is easier to stick to a routine if you have someone doing it with you. You are less likely to cancel on a friend. Make a set time and stick to it. If you don’t have a walking buddy there are community walking groups you can join and make new friends at the same time.
3. Water Bottle
Take a water bottle with you and make sure you keep hydrated. Don’t think that because it is winter you don’t need to drink as much water.
4. Hat, Sunglasses & Sunscreen
Don’t forget to wear a hat and sunscreen especially in summer.
5. Get a Pedometer
Invest in a pedometer and count the steps. This can be a good motivator and keep you on track. 10,000 steps a day is a good goal to aim for. In the next few posts in this series we will look at a Beginners Program to start you off, plus Intermediate and Advanced Walking Programs.