How to get fit by walking
Perhaps the most popular form of exercise in the U.S. is walking. Walking is by far the best exercise anyone can take on, only because it’s effective and simple and does not require any equipment. All you need is good walking shoes, and maybe some music or audio books for entertainment along the way.
Before we get started, here are some alarming statistics to consider:
- Based on CDC statistics, about 13% of children use walking as a method to get to school. This is compared to 66% of students in 1970.
- Most traffic in cities are comprised of parents driving their children to school. This is about 20-30% of morning daily traffic.
- The average person in the US takes about 2,000 steps per mile. It is suggested to take 10,000 steps per day, or the equivalence of 5 miles walked each day.
- The best method of exercise is brisk walking. This is when people walk about 3.5 miles per hour. This has shown to increase metabolism, lower blood pressure, reduce risks of bone fracture and reduce body fat.
- People who brisk walk tend to live longer too. The association between brisk walking lower mortality rates speaks volume on improving cardiovascular disease and lower the chance of cancer.
- Not too many people adults in the U.S. meet the public health recommendation of exercising 5 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. In fact, only 21-34% do.
- Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that childhood obesity has increased 5 times in the last 40 years for children ages 6-11.
How hard should you exercise?
You don’t have to exercise hard. You just have to move. Even if you break down your walking into 2 x 15 minutes each sessions, or even into 3 total 10 minute sessions, walking can still have a good effect on your weight loss efforts.
Walking does not only help improve your weight loss changes, but it also helps your heart by lowering your cholesterol level. In addition, walking will reduce a risk of diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes. It will help you improve your body circulation and bone strength.
The American Heart Association states that walking a little bit each day can dramatically improve health. If you have many other health issues, it is best to check with your doctor to get approval on starting this exercise programs, especially if you already have problems moving.
How to get started
If you have been inactive for a while, perhaps it’s a good idea to start moving slowly. Maybe walk 3 times a week for about 20 minutes each time. then, increase your intensity and walk the same amount of time, but 4-5 times the next week. It is best to focus either on the total time that you want to walk or the distance that you want to cover.
Try to take it slow at the beginning. too much intensity at the beginning might not be the best ideal setting. You want to work your heart beat gradually, especially if you’re not already fit.
5 tips to stay motivated
1. get a pedometer. They are inexpensive and will help you greatly determine how many steps you have taken per day. Remember, it is recommended that you take about 10,000 steps per day (approximately 5 miles). A good place to start looking for a pedometer is Amazon.
2. Document your walking efforts. This will ultimately motivate you until you reach your goal. Write down how many steps you’ve taken each day and try to beat that record the next day.
3. Get the help of another person, like for example a walking partner, or a friend who might also need to lose weight. It’s a better motivator when two people are working together.
4. Challenge yourself and sign up for a charitable walking event. There are many of them out there.
5. Get the support of other walking communities online. Check out programs from other organizations such as The American Heart Association’s Start Walking Now program. They have helped thousands of people get started walking. Designed by the American Council on Exercise, the free online program includes a monthly newsletter with health tips and recipes, an online activity and nutrition tracker, access to an online journal, and the ability to connect with others for support and motivation. A search option also allows you to look for walking paths in your area.
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