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Walking Towards Fitness: A Walking Guide

It’s coming to that time of year again… New Year’s resolution time!! Number one on that list is usually a pledge to get into better shape or lose weight. Very commendable, but how exactly do we achieve this wonderful goal? Believe it or not, simply walking can be the most effective way to improve your overall fitness and health. We all can be a little bit lazy and use the escalator or elevator at work or while shopping. We here at HPFY can help you understand the benefits of walking and keep that New Year’s resolution!!

Benefits of Walking

What are the Benefits Walking?

Every coherent person understands the benefits of exercise. One of the easiest ways to get started with a fitness regimen is by walking. It may not be as glamorous as going to the gym or a yoga studio, but the benefits of a regular walking schedule are undeniable. Some benefits to walking can include:

  • Weight Control: Walking at a brisk pace allows you to burn off calories and excess fat. That could lead to a leaner, trimmer you!!
  • Mental Health: Adhering to a schedule of walking can increase your mood, reduce depression, and lower your stress levels. Walking in groups can also increase social interaction and bring an overall sense of happiness.
  • Postmenopausal Health: Older women can benefit from walking by helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues associated with menopause. Also, walking can increase a woman’s bone density and stave off osteoporosis.
  • Overall Health: Benefits can include everything from preventing the progression of foot ulcers brought about by diabetes to a boost to the immune system. The American Cancer Society even suggests that women who walk more than seven hours a week are at a lower risk of breast cancer.
  • Prevent/Manage Illnesses: Walking regularly can help minimize the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes.
  • Improve Balance and Coordination: As we age, it is critically important to try and maintain our balance and coordination to avoid the possibility of falls that may cause injuries such as fractures.

It goes without saying that the faster and farther you walk, the more you will benefit from your walks. The same can be said for the frequency with which you walk. More is better, but you should start slow and steadily increase both your speed and distance. You can keep track of your progress with a fitness tracker so you know when you’re ready for the next level.

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How to maximize your Effort?

Once you have committed to a daily or weekly routine of walking, compliance with this schedule is the key to its efficacy. You must make sure you stick to your schedule. No excuses!! Start slowly and get comfortable before increasing any distance or intensity, but once you have there are a few ways to make sure your effort is not in vain. It may seem silly, but your technique for walking can turn a normal walk into an exercise stride. This basically relies on proper posture and purposeful movements. Some tips for an effective exercise walk can include:

  • Heads up: You should be looking forward and not at the ground.
  • Neck, Shoulders, Back: Relaxed and not stiff.
  • Arm Swings: You should swing your arms freely with a slight bend at the elbow. You can exaggerate this movement as you progress.
  • Tight Core Muscles: Slightly tighten your abdominal muscles so that your back is straight and not tilted forward or backward.
  • Step Properly: With every stride, you should concentrate on walking heel to toe.

As with any exercise routine, you should check with your physician to be sure what you are doing is safe and appropriate for you. Each of us is different and so should our exercise routine. Once you have progressed in your exercise routine, feel free to add wrist weights or ankle weights to add a little bit more resistance in order to pump up your workout. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, such as correctly fitting sneakers, and make sure your route is clear of obstructions, like cracked sidewalks. It is critical that you should warm up by walking slowly at first and pick up the pace as you walk your route. After exercising should always cool down by walking slowly and then stretch gently to call it a day. If you should feel any pain, you should stop and consult your physician.

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Walking is a great way to gently start reaping the benefits of exercise. Make sure you set realistic goals as you begin. While it is good to tax yourself, it is this gentle buildup that will increase your compliance and help you stick to your walking routine. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!!

 

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