Walk Your Way to a Healthier You: The Benefits of Walking, How to Get Started, and How to Stay Motivated
We’ve all got that outrageously fit friend whose happiness seems to be driven by high-intensity interval training classes followed by uphill sprints at night, just for fun. And we’ve all thought that friend is insane. And, as impressive as such folks may be, they often nourish the misperception among us mortals that we simply aren’t the “exercising type.” After all, chances are you’re not among the few who enjoy three hours of daily suffering. This doesn’t mean, however, that you’re not cut out for exercise! An activity as simple as walking can dramatically improve your fitness, and from there it’s just a hop, skip, and a conditioning circuit to your first 5K!
A daily brisk walk has been shown to provide marked health benefits. Getting out for at least 30-minutes a day will help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Prevent or assist with managing heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Improve balance, coordination, and dexterity.
- Lift your spirits and lighten your mood.
The more you make walking a part of your daily routine, the greater the benefits. That said, any amount of activity is better than none, so don’t be discouraged if getting started is a struggle. Begin by planning a routine and setting realistic goals to build confidence and create accountability, both of which are cornerstones of motivation:
Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine involves getting yourself setup with the right gear—shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick flexible soles—and choosing an appropriate walking route. In mapping your itinerary, aim to avoid dicey terrain, low-hanging tree limbs, potholes, and any other obstacles that may hinder your enjoyment. If weather is a worry, consider heading to a shopping mall that offers open times for walkers. If you anticipate heading out at night, be sure to don reflective clothing and consider visibility.
Set Realistic Goals
Before you get started, set some realistic goals—goals you are sure you can achieve. Be modest, as overachieving is far more gratifying than falling short. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, spread out throughout each week, but falling short of these recommendations is far from failing. Working up to such objectives is a practice that takes time. In your first week you might only manage 5 minutes of daily activity. In week two, maybe it’s 10, and the week after maybe 15. In no time, you’ll be craving an hour of activity a day…
Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress can help with maintaining motivation. Keep a record of how many steps you take, the distance you cover, and the time you invest. Seeing how far you’ve come in the first week, month, and year serves as a source of inspiration. Record these numbers in a walking journal or log them in a spreadsheet or a physical activity app. And if you miss a day, don’t worry. Exercise is a practice, not a chore. As with all new things we seek to learn, there will be hiccups and setbacks. Take these in stride.
An excellent way to get started is to jump into our free WalkWell™ program and download the WalkWell™ Tracker we’ve developed! This program is easy to follow and excellent for beginners! Complete the brief form below to download the tracker and start walking your way to weight loss today! Happy walking!
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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