April 7th, 2021
Each year, the American Heart Association sponsors a day dedicated to walking. This day is meant to increase awareness about the health benefits of walking. Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise as it is low impact, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere- the office, outside, the grocery store, or in your home.
Benefits of Walking
The health benefits of walking can be seen in many aspects of your life.
- Walking can help get your blood moving by raising your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Lowering your blood pressure also lowers your risk for stroke and heart disease. The release of endorphins can have a big impact on your mood and walking does just that!
- Walking is a great way to release stress and improve your mood after a long day. In addition, your muscles are what allow your body to move and function throughout the day, but maintenance doesn’t require hours spent in the gym lifting weights. There have also been studies to show that regular exercise, including walking, can lead to a longer life.
Get the Most Out of Walking
There is a broad consensus that walking is good for your health among experts, but exactly how much of a benefit you’ll get out of walking depends on mileage and intensity. The minimum recommended amount of walking for good health is 30 minutes of moderate intensity, five days per week. The more walking you can do the better the benefit, but how can you get more steps into your day? Here are four easy to follow tips to think about this National Walking Day.
Getting in the recommended amount of walking may be a challenge for those with busy schedules, but planning ahead and preparing will help you reach your goals while maintain other areas of your daily living. Here are five tips to help you prepare your walking routine:
Equip yourself accordingly. Choosing the right shoes is an important step, sense it can decrease stress on joints and feet and keep you in motion for longer periods of time. Dress prepared for the weather if you walk outdoors.
- Plan your Route. If walking outdoors avoid trails with cracks, potholes, excessive vegetation, or other obstacles that can lead to injury or harm. Also, if weather isn’t acceptable consider walking in a shopping mall or on a treadmill.
- Warm Up. Walk slowly for 5-10 minutes to prepare your body for exercise.
- Cool Down. At the end of your work out, walk slowly to help your muscles cool down.
- Stretch. After you cool down, get a good stretch in.
Set Realistic Goals
As a general goal aim for at least 30 minutes of walking per day, and if you can’t do it all at once try several shorter session throughout the day. Any amount of physical activity is better than none, and those small amount of activity accumulated throughout the day will lead to health benefits. Remember its ok to start slowly, starting at 10 minutes a day and adding 5 minutes per day until you reach a least 30 minutes is fine. And for even more health benefits aim for 6o minutes of walking per day.
Track your Progress
Recording all the steps you take, the distance you walk, and the time it takes can help with tracking progress and serve as inspiration to keep pushing. Record these numbers in a walking journal, or exercise app, or track activity in real time with a pedometer or fitness tracker. Think about how good you’ll feel when you see the amount of miles you’ve walked in a week, month, or year, and it will keep you wanting to do more.
Committing yourself to walking and doing so consistently, takes drive and motivation.
- Prepare for success. Start with a simple goal, and increase the intensity or length as you accomplish those goals.
- Enjoy yourself. Walk with a friend, join a walking group, or listen to music, whatever keeps you going.
- Vary your routine. Plan different routes, keep the walking interesting.
- Take missed days in stride. If you miss some days don’t feel bad, remind yourself why you’re doing it and how good it feels to include fitness in your life and get back at it.