When you think of fitness and exercise, what comes to mind? For many people, itís the high-tech gadgets, sophisticated workout plans and personal trainers that have become icons of the fitness world. All of these, whether you are daunted or enthralled by them, share one fundamental goal: to get your body moving.
If you prefer a simpler approach to fitness, try walking. This basic exercise method is accessible, effective and rewarding.
The First Step
As an aerobic exercise, walking offers countless health benefits, including heart-healthy perks such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It reduces the risk of diabetes, aids in weight loss, improves muscle strength and tone and, as with any exercise regimen, causes mental fitness to skyrocket. This low-impact activity can be enjoyed alone or in the company of friends. Walking is not, however, an exercise that lends itself to excuses. Virtually anyone can do it, anywhere!
All you need to kick off your walking routine is a decent pair of shoes (they should be supportive, fit adequately in the toe box, and feel snug at the heel), along with proper socks (cotton/acrylic blends are recommended) and a spark of motivation. After you've started, your own progress will fuel and inspire your exercise each day.
Begin your walking routine with a warm-up and simple stretches. Then pick up the pace and aim for 20-30 minutes of brisk walking, followed by a cool-down and more gentle stretching. Walking 3-5 times a week will produce results, although it's likely that before long, you'll want to add it to your daily routine.
You may find it useful to chart your progress. This makes it easy for you to increase intensity and duration gradually and to see the improvements you're making. Get creative with your walking regimen. Try incorporating light hand weights, varying speeds and new routes. Feeling really inspired? Look for somewhat hilly terrain. The resistance will burn more calories and produce increased strength and endurance in even less time.
If you are new to exercise, be sure to pay especially close attention to the signals your body is sending you. Do not ignore pain, and check with a doctor to find out if you need supports for your walking shoes. The last thing you want is a pesky injury to hinder your hard-earned improvements.
Walking is clearly a great way to get your body moving. It is effective in and of itself, and it is a springboard to endless possibilities for continued fitness and exercise. Be proud of the results you achieve, and most of all, enjoy the steps you take to get there.