Walking is the easiest form of exercise you can do. It’s the only type you don’t have to have a base level of fitness in order to do properly. It’s exercise you can incorporate into your regular day and do almost anywhere. You don’t even have to make special time for it, like you would for other types of exercise. The best part is that walking can be enough to help you lose weight and become healthier. Not convinced walking is for you? Here are a few points that may change your mind and soon have you hitting the pavement.
The perks of walking
Walking is an ideal form of exercise for people wanting to make the shift from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one. You can think of it as a good way of easing into physical activity and building up your fitness for other types of exercise. It’s low-impact, making it great for people who are prone to joint pain.
Walking helps to tone muscles and strengthen bones, working large muscle groups, including quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. It’s also good for your heart, since it causes the heart muscle to beat faster and pump more oxygenated blood around the body. This increased level of circulation improves cardiovascular endurance which in turn, helps lower the risk of diabetes and bad cholesterol and reduces obesity.
Walking outdoors has the increased benefit of added vitamin D from the sun, a nutrient your body needs to maintain strong bones, muscles and mental health. Some studies have even shown that vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, high blood pressure and cancer.
What does it take?
The health benefits of walking are clear but it’s going to take more than going for an occasional stroll. When walking as exercise, speed is important. Long, meandering walks are good for thinkers and brooders, but if you want to improve your health, intensity matters most. Power walking burns more calories over the same period of time as regular walking. For optimum health, aim to engage in at least 75 minutes of brisk walking every week. You can determine how intense the exercise is by doing the ‘talk test’. During moderately intense activity, you should be able to talk but not sing, while during vigorous activity, you’ll be able to say only a few words before having to breathe deeply.
Put more pep in your step
So, you’ve decided that you’d like to incorporate more walking into your week. Getting started is the hardest part and most people find that establishing a routine is the best way to go. Set yourself a goal each week to walk for a certain amount of time and keep a logbook to record your progress. You might also like to start out with a stopwatch and pedometer, which counts your steps and analyses your distance. Start with 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walking each day and work your way up.
Need more help to get started? Walk your way to better health and fitness with these tips.