From the moment we were born our parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles were willing us to take our first steps. From that moment forward, we had just been given one of the most efficient fitness machines ever. But how many of us use it to benefit our health?
Fifty percent of Americans do not take enough exercise to gain any health benefits, with lack of time and money being two of the main reasons given for not adhering to a regular exercise program.
So here is the answer for those of you who fall into the aforementioned 50%. Stand up, put one foot in front of the other, continue for 10 minutes, repeat twice more during the day and repeat three to five times per week. There you have it – you just put yourself into the other 50% – the 50% who do exercise enough to gain health benefits!
It really is that simple. It doesn’t cost anything and the time element is negligible. You really do not have to allocate extra time in your day. In fact, the time it takes you to go to the gym, your workout could have been done.
Had you ever considered getting off the bus a stop or two before your destination and walking the remaining distance, which may in fact even save you time?
What about, instead of going around and around looking for a parking space closer to the store, you park your car further away?
Why not walk to get your lunch instead of having it delivered?
How about walking for errands instead of driving short distances?
You could even leave your riding lawnmower in the garage. Even better, sell it, put a few bucks in your pocket and save yourself the weekly cost of gas!
There are so many ways you could incorporate your “exercise” program into your daily life without it making an impact on your schedule. It could even save you money, but without a doubt it will give you some great health benefits.
Reasons to Walk
- Walking prevents type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program showed that walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight (12 – 15 pounds) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58% .
- Walking strengthens your heart. In one study, mortality rates among retired men who walked less than one mile per day were nearly twice that among those who walked more than two miles per day. Women in the Nurse’s Health Study (72,488 female nurses) who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary event by 35% compared with women who did not walk.
- Walking is good for your brain. In a study on walking and cognitive function, researchers found that women who walked the equivalent of an easy pace at least 1.5 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than women who walked less than 40 minutes per week.
- Walking is good for your bones. Research shows that postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances, and walking is also effective in slowing the rate of bone loss from the legs.
- Walking helps alleviate symptoms of depression. Walking for 30 minutes, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression as measured with a standard depression questionnaire by 47%.
- Walking reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer. Women who performed the equivalent of one hour and 15 minutes to two and a half hours per week of brisk walking had an 18% decreased risk of breast cancer compared with inactive women. Many studies have shown that exercise can prevent colon cancer, and even if an individual person develops colon cancer, the benefits of exercise appear to continue both by increasing quality of life and reducing mortality.
- Walking improves fitness. Walking just three times a week for 30 minutes can significantly increase cardiorespiratory fitness. A study of sedentary women showed that short bouts of brisk walking (three 10-minute walks per day) also resulted in similar improvement in fitness.
Undoubtedly you need to walk at a decent pace to gain health benefits. A good average walking speed is 3 to 4 miles per hour depending on your leg length and how quickly you can move your legs. If it has been a long time since you last exercised, you may need to start at a slower pace – but you will soon improve if you walk regularly.
Before you begin:-
- Check with your doctor.
- Invest in a good pair of shoes. As these are the only expense you’ll need, pay attention to the fit and quality of your shoes. Ensure they do not pinch and wear the socks you will be wearing when you walk to the fitting.
- Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing. Walk at a pace that elevates your heart rate, you should be able to hold a conversation whilst walking , if you can’t you are working too hard and should slow down the pace.
- Use good walking posture. TheAmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends keeping your head up, back straight and abdomen flat, point your toes straight ahead and take long strides but don’t strain.
- Consider getting a pedometer. You can track the distance you’ve walked or the number of steps you’ve taken. Seeing improvement is a wonderful source of motivation.
- Carry water. If you are walking long distances or in the heat keep your body hydrated by drinking regularly.
- Stretch after your walk. Ensure your stretch your calves, quadriceps and hamstrings post work-out to avoid muscular tightness.
Hippocrates once said “Walking is a man’s best medicine”.
Ensure you take your daily dose!