Did you know that walking can be a great way to start achieving your fitness goals? Though it’s low-impact, it can be a powerful tool in getting you on the right path towards a healthier lifestyle. You don’t need a gym membership to start feeling better, all you need is to get on your feet!
Walking is an ideal activity for all ages because it doesn’t put a lot of stress on your body the same way running and jumping can. This makes it perfect for elderly people and people trying to transition to a healthier lifestyle. It works large muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscle and other leg and foot muscles, getting your heart beating faster and strengthening and toning these muscles.
Exercising these muscles creates many benefits—including improving your circulation, increasing cardiovascular endurance, boosting bone health, and reducing obesity and diabetes risk. Regular walking exercise can also lower your bad cholesterol, and raise your good cholesterol. Outdoor walking is even better—sun exposure will help your body synthesize vitamin D, a nutrient that could help provide protection from osteoporosis, high blood pressure and cancer.
The speed you use when walking matters. You should try reaching a moderate intensity level when walking. Intensity matters more than the total time you spend exercising. Studies show that simply 20 to 35 minutes of intense walking a day cut participants’ risk of diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome (an obesity-related group of conditions) by 50 percent.
The Center for Disease Control recommends adults focus on getting 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week. You can achieve this CDC goal through walking. A good way to make sure you’ve reached moderate intensity is by trying the “talk test”. If you’re truly at a moderate intensity level, you should be able to talk but not sing. Vigorous activity will only allow you to say a few words before you break to breathe.
You can also measure the intensity of your walking workout by time and distance. Brisk walking can take you three miles or more per hour. If you want a specific analysis, try working with a personal trainer or physician to help you determine your ideal pace with a heart monitor.
Getting started can be intimidating, but creating a game plan before you begin is your best shot at success. Writing down a specific time of day to exercise and adding it to your to-do list can be very beneficial. In addition, walking with a partner, tracking your activity and walking around during TV commercial breaks are very easy ways to add walking to your daily regimen. Stick to 10 to 15-minute walking sessions a day until you work up to your goal.
Once your walking goals seem easy and you stop noticing physical improvements – increase your distance, frequency or intensity. Adding walking to other exercise activities can increase your health benefits, so don’t shy away from doing other forms of exercise! Take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle today and make walking a priority in your life today.
For more health tips, follow us on Facebook! Laredo Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.