Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Toddlers do it. Octogenarians do it. How about you? Walking is simple, natural and convenient-and it’s loaded with all the benefits of exercise.
Walking can help increase your mood, boost your energy, lose weight, control your blood pressure, reduce stress, prevent bone loss and decrease the risks of many kinds of disease, including cancer. Walking is easier on the joints than many other types of exercise and rarely causes injury.
In addition a regular walking program can
- improve circulation – which can prevent a stroke or heart attack
- strengthen muscle tone – which can decrease the likelihood of sprains and strains
- improve overall fitness – which can increase your stamina for daily tasks
And walking is one of the least expensive, most convenient ways to exercise. You can walk inside or out, rain or shine. Alone or with a friend. Early in the morning or later in the day.
If you’re just starting out, try walking five minutes a day. Work up to ten minutes after a week or so, and then build your time in five-minute increments. How far, how fast and how often you walk will depend on your goals-whether your walking for overall fitness, weight loss or stress reduction.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. He or she can advise you on the intensity and duration of exercises that are right for you.
- Good walking shoes are essential. They cushion your feet and absorb shock.
- Dress for weather. Layers work well when it’s cooler. As you warm up, you can remove the outer layers.
- Wear a light backpack so you have somewhere to put those layers!
- Bring a water bottle for your walk.
- Stretch for at least five minutes before and after a workout.
Just for Fun
- Heart rate monitor – good to have if you like to know how high your heart rate is.
- Pedometer – an easy way to tell how far you’ve gone.
- Music – lots of people like to listen to the radio or cassette while walking. New, lightweight headphones make it easy.