Have you been a couch potato but want to start back to an exercise program? Fitness walking may very well be the program for you! Fitness walking may be the best way to start a program for people whose level of conditioning is low.
Research has shown that exercise improves your circulation and energy levels while decreasing your cholesterol and risk for cancer, stroke and heart disease. As with any program you should always check with your primary healthcare provider to be sure that your planned program won’t interfere with your current medical conditions or medications and that your goals will work with your current level of conditioning.
Walking is a great way to get your body moving, lose weight and improving your energy level. This is definitely not as hard on your body as running or other intensive exercise programs. It is also one of the safest forms of exercise. Walking strengthens your heart, lowers your blood pressure, and can increase your metabolic rate for the day while preventing weight gain.
Fitness walking may also be perceived as having some disadvantages. Because the exercise is less intense than other exercises, your improvements will be slower. You can take up more intense exercises once your fitness level has improved but don’t give up the walking, which will help intensify the benefits of any other program you enjoy.
Walking is easy to get started, costs very little and gives you the freedom to do indoors or outside. Walking should be the foundation of any beginning fitness program. Doctors recommend that you walk for 30 minutes at a brisk pace once per day. Some find it more convenient to walk for 10 minutes 3 times each day. With that flexibility anyone can incorporate it into their day.
The flexibility of a walking program can also work against you. Without a structured program you may find excuses not to walk for those 10 minutes per day. Plan a specific time each day and stick with it for 21 days. Research shows that people who perform an activity for at least 3 weeks and develop a habit will find it more difficult to stop the habit than to it.
Start your program slowly. Even though you are walking you can still overdo the program and get hurt. Walking gives you time to think, socialize with your friends, make business decisions and listen to music. You’ll burn extra calories, feel better about yourself and discover that you can do more than you did before. There are many more advantages to doing walking than there are disadvantages.
Keep a log of your progress and the milestones you reach. You’ll find this keeps you motivated and willing to continue the walking program. You’ll see the small steps in concrete terms and you’ll be able to plan rewards when you achieve your goals. Your rewards must be consistent with your program. Using ice cream or cake as a reward just works against your original goals. Consider other things that might be rewards such as a coveted CD, a book or an afternoon at the movies.
Too often we put the needs of others above our own needs. Although this is admirable and a desirable trait it also can adversely affect your health. Only you can make a change in your habits that will improve your health and your energy levels. And in the long run, this will also help the ones you love.
Fitness Magazine: Walk it off
Hal Higdon: Fitness Walking
MayoClinic: Get Walking with this 12-week Walking Schedule
Prevention: 14 Walking Workouts to Burn Fat and Boost Energy
North Carolina State University: HESF 102 Fitness walking