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Published on March 27, 2018

group of women walking outside

#TryItTuesday: Walk Your Way to Fitness

When most of us think of increasing our physical activity, we simply don’t know where to start, especially if it’s been awhile since we’ve exercised.

Often getting started is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Walking is an excellent form of exercise for all ages and abilities. When I decided to get fit, one of my challenges was my deconditioning.

I quickly discovered that walking was the perfect option.

I started by walking one block, followed by two blocks the next time. When I first started my walking plan, I’d try and walk two to three times throughout my day.  It was a slow process to begin with, but I’m now walking 2 miles at a time comfortably.

With all the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the number of positive benefits for your body and health from walking, it is sad that walking is often an underrated form of exercise. 

Here are just a few of the benefits of walking:

  • Improves fitness, balance, cardiac health and coordination
  • Lowers blood pressure while it alleviates depression and fatigue
  • Improves mood, reduces pain and can be good for weight loss
  • Reduces risk of cancer and chronic diseases
  • Strengthens your bones and muscles

Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout.

Personally, since starting a walking program, my body feels stronger, and my endurance is increasing. An unexpected bonus is that my sleeping has improved significantly.

One of the keys to a successful walking program is consistency. On Sunday evenings, my husband and I review our calendars for the upcoming week. We then mark down the days we are walking or going to the gym. Our goal is 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week.

If you are new to walking, here are a few tips to getting started:

  • If you have any health condition, check with your health care provider before starting any physical activity program.
  • Find a safe place to walk.
  • Invest in a good pair of shoes.
  • Dress for comfort and safety
  • Do a five-minute warm up and cool down

You should also practice good technique on your walks, and that can include the following tips:

  • Walk at a brisk, steady pace. Slow down if you’re too breathless to carry on a conversation.
  • Keep your back straight, not arched forward or backward.
  • Keep your chin parallel to ground and look forward.
  • Keep your shoulders down, and point your toes straight ahead.
  • Let your arms swing loosely at your sides while you walk smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.
  • Take comfortable strides. To go faster, take quicker steps instead of longer ones.

Start where you are, in terms of fitness, and then slowly work your way up. Aim to boost your daily walking-time total by five minutes until you're walking 30–60 minutes every day. If you find that you aren’t able to walk 30 minutes at one time, break it into three 10-minute segments, and make sure you stay hydrated.

Drink water before and after your walk. Take water with you on your walk, especially in warm weather.

Success Strategies

  • Have a backup plan. If you overslept and missed your morning walk, bring your shoes to work and sneak in a 15-minute walk over your lunch hour.
  • Have a walking buddy. A walking buddy can be a friend, family member, coworker or even your four-legged companion. Committing to walk with someone else helps to motivate on those “I don’t feel like it” days.
  • Listen to audiobooks or podcasts while you walk.
  • Research new areas to walk and develop a schedule. My husband and I like to walk a new trail every weekend.
  • Set a walking goal. Walking goals can be a certain number of steps, distance or time.
  • Join a walking club.

Walking has now become one of my favorite pastime activities.

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