Walking – A Great Place to Start!
Walking is a great way to get fit.
Here are some advantages of walking for exercise:
- It doesn't require a gym membership or fancy equipment – it's totally free!
- It's an easy place to start since most of us do it every day – there's no learning curve!
- It has been shown to improve blood pressure, cholesterol, stress, and depression.
- It can help to promote weight loss and reduce your risk for other chronic diseases like heart disease and dementia.
- It is enjoyable and something you can do with others.
- It is a safe and generally risk-free form of physical activity.
- It is a form of exercise that is easy to keep up – there are lots of places you can do it!
If you're not used to being active, you can start with 10 minutes of walking each day and build as your fitness improves.
When you begin, find a comfortable pace and try to add about three to five minutes to your daily walking time each week. A good goal to shoot for is at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week.
There's no better time to begin a walking routine than right now. In fact, we've got a starter walking plan below that's perfect for beginners.
Starter Walking Plan
Start out by keeping track of how much you currently walk for a few days. Use a pedometer or a watch to determine how many minutes of walking you already do or how many steps you take. From there, you can start the following plan to add more walking into your routine.
Remember that the rate at which you increase your walking may be faster than or not as fast as our sample plan suggests.
What's important is that you take it one day at a time and build up your walking stamina at a pace that's comfortable for you.
Quick Tips for Walkers
- Warm up first by walking in place or start out walking at a slower pace than normal for 3-5 minutes.
- Stretch for 5-10 minutes after you warm up or after your walk to help you stay more flexible.
- Keep good posture. Gaze forward, not down at the ground, with your chin level and head up.
- Stay hydrated by drinking throughout the day before you begin your walk.
- Wear shoes designed for walking or exercise for greater comfort and to prevent injuries.
Once you are used to your walking routine, don't be afraid to take it to the next level. Here are some ways you can change up your walking routine to keep improving your fitness:
- Pick up your speed for short intervals throughout your walk to get your heart rate up.
- Increase the distance of your walks to build endurance.
- Walk both faster and farther, and add some hills to your workout.
- Switch up your routine. Do a faster, shorter walk some days and longer brisk walk other days.
- Try going with a friend some days and bring music for others.
*Adapted from I Hate to Exercise, 2nd edition, by Charlotte Hayes, MMSc, MS, RD, CDE. ©American Diabetes Association.
Want to take a step towards better health? Enjoy a refreshing walk with healthcare professionals from your community who will provide support and answer questions. Find a "Walk with a Doc" event near you.
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