- Brisk walking daily can help you stay fit and healthy.
- A proper walking posture is key to making your walk a form of beneficial exercise.
- Warming up and cooling down are essential parts of walking programs.
Staying physically active doesn’t need to be complicated. As simple as a brisk walk daily can help you achieve a healthier life by helping you:
- Keep a healthy weight
- Combat or control various conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Boost your mood
- Enhance your balance and coordination
Consider your posture
Having a good posture and purposeful movement can turn your regular walk into a fitness stride. Here’s how you can achieve it:
- Hold your head up while looking forward.
- Relax your neck, shoulders, and back.
- Swing your arms freely, slightly bending your elbows. You may also pump your arms a little.
- Slightly tighten your muscles, keeping your back straight.
- Walk smoothly, allowing your foot to roll from heel to toe.
Set up a routine
When starting your walk routine, remember to do the following:
- Use the right gear. Wear shoes that provide proper arch support and protection, and clothes and gear appropriate for the weather. Consider wearing bright colors or reflective tape if walking outdoors when it’s dark.
- Choose a safe course. When planning to walk outdoors, avoid dangerous paths, like cracked sidewalks. If the weather prohibits you from walking in the outdoors, try walking in a shopping mall.
- Warm-up and cool down. Prepare your body for exercise by walking slowly for five to 10 minutes before increasing your speed. Do the same at the end of your walk.
- Stretch. After cooling down, gently stretch your muscles.
Set realistic goals
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends healthy adults to have at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity spread out over a week. You may also consider doing strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Make sure to have at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, but remember that any amount of exercise is better than none at all.
If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start slow, gradually increasing your time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes. Sixty minutes of daily physical activity can also provide more significant health benefits.
Track your progress
Record how many steps you take, how far you walk, and how long it takes you to do it. This can remind you of where you started from and serve as an inspiration.
To remain motivated and committed to your walking program:
- Set yourself up for success. Start with a simple goal, like taking a 5- or 10-minute walk during lunch break. When it becomes a habit, set a new goal, like walking for 20 minutes after work. It could help you reach for goals that once seemed unattainable.
- Make walking enjoyable. Listening to music while walking can make the physical activity more fun. You may also ask a friend or neighbor to join you or join a health club or walking group.
- Vary your routine. Plan several different outdoor routes for variety, ensuring that you’re taking a safe and well-lit course.
- Take missed days in stride. If you skip a walking day, remind yourself of the good feeling that walking brings, and then get back on track.
Source: Mayo Clinic