Are you ready to reap the benefits of walking? Here’s how to get started and stay motivated.Page contents
- an introduction
- Learn about the benefits
- Pay attention to training style
- Plan your routine activities
- Set realistic goals
- Track your progress
- Stay motivated
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Learn about the benefits
Physical activities don’t have to be complicated. Doing a simple activity like a brisk daily walk can help you lead a healthier life.
For example, regular brisk walking can help you :
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Prevention or control of various health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Bone strengthening
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
The greater the speed, distance, and frequency of walking, the greater the benefits.
Pay attention to training style
Turning a regular walk into a step towards fitness requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, the following are the desired look while walking:
- Your head up. Looking forward, not at the ground.
- Relaxing the neck, shoulders and back, and not having a strong erection.
- Swing freely with elbows slightly bent. It is appropriate to move the arms a little.
- Slightly tighten your abdominal muscles, keeping your back straight, not arched forward or backward.
- Walk smoothly, with the foot bent from heel to toe.
Plan your routine activities
As you begin the walking activity, remember the following:
- Find the right shoe: Choose shoes with a support arch, firm heel, and thick elastic lining to cushion the feet and absorb shock. If you walk outdoors when it’s dark, wear bright colors or reflective visibility tape.
- Choose a hiking path carefully: If you will be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, overhanging ends, or uneven grass.
- Warm-up: Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
- Body cooling: At the end of the walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help cool your muscles.
- Stretching Exercises: After you have calmed down, gently stretch your muscles. If you prefer to stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
Set realistic goals
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate aerobic activities for at least two hours and 30 minutes per week or vigorous aerobic activities for at least an hour and 15 minutes per week – preferably distributed over the days of the week – and strength training exercises at least twice a week.
As a general goal, try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. If you can’t allocate a lot of time, you can try two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
Remember you can start slowly, especially if you haven’t been exercising regularly. You can start with five minutes a day the first week, then increase the time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes.
Track your progress
Keeping a record of the number of steps you walk, the distance you walk and the time you take can help you learn about your progress and be inspired. Think how happy you are when you see how many miles you have walked each week, month, or year.
Record these numbers in a walking journal or record them in a spreadsheet or physical activity app. Another option is to use an electronic device, such as a pedometer, to calculate the number of steps and distance.
Starting a walking program takes initiative. Keeping it up takes commitment. To stay motivated, do the following:
- Prepare for success: Start with a simple goal, such as walking for 10 minutes during your lunch break. When a 10-minute walk becomes your habit, set a new goal, such as a 20-minute walk after work. Soon you will be able to reach goals that previously seemed impossible.
- Make walking fun: If you don’t enjoy walking alone, ask a friend or neighbor to accompany you. If you are motivated by groups, you might join a health club.
- Vary your activities and routines: If you walk outdoors, take several different approaches to diversification. If you walk alone, be sure to tell someone which route you are taking.
- Make up for lost days with strides: If you find yourself neglecting your daily walking activity, don’t give up. Remind yourself carefully of the happiness you felt when you put physical activity into your daily routine, then get back on track.
Once you take this first step, you are on your way to an important destination which is better health.