Many don’t think something as easy and comfortable as walking should count as exercise. They’re wrong. In recent times, daily life has become pretty fast paced, especially for city dwellers. All around the world, more people are dealing with increasingly busy schedules and barely have enough time to complete daily tasks. A daily workout in the gym may not be a feasible exercise option for you, but a walk a day will deinitely go a long way in keeping you healthy. As simple as it may sound, taking a walk can improve your fitness level. It is free, highly recreational and suitable for all ages.
Health-wise, there are many gains to be had from taking daily walks, some of which include:
• Strengthening your joints, bones and muscles, thus reducing the risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
• Maintenance of lean muscles and increase in cardiovascular endurance, which help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, some cancers and stroke.
• Aiding digestion and speeding up your metabolism, thereby helping you maintain a healthy body weight.
• Relieving stress and anxiety.
Here are some basic, helpful information that you need to aid you in planning more efective and healthier walks in the near future.
1. Set easy targets and pace yourself. You can set a goal for walking thirty minutes every day, and then gradually work towards hitting this daily. Once you’re comfortable with the thirty-minute goal, you can set a higher goal. You must walk briskly for it to be considered as exercise (i.e. fast enough to increase heartbeat and breathing, but slow enough that you can still talk). Your routine should include at least a five-minute easy-paced walk at the beginning and at the end of your walk, so that your heart rate can steadily speed up and slow down.
2. Choose company for your walks. Walk with a friend, it’s harder to back out if you know someone else is waiting for you. You can also make your daily walks a family affair, and add fun activities to your health routine. Additionally, challenge one another, to see who can cover more distance within your allotted walking time.
3. Use a pedometer. You may either choose a gadget that you can attach to your clothes or wear around your wrist, or you can use an app on your phone. A pedometer will help you keep track of how many steps you’ve taken each day, thus spurring you to achieve your set goal. Fitness researchers consider you to be active if you can successfully complete 10,000 steps every day.
4. Plan weekly activities that involve walking. Whether for entertainment or to run errands, plan some of your activities each week that will require walking. That will take the edge of having to struggle to complete the tasks all week long.
5. Use the right techniques. The right walking posture will make your exercise easier, reduce pain, sores or discomfort, and yield better output by helping you burn more calories and fat. Tips include:
• Stand tall with your spine elongated and breastbone lifted. Firm your tummy and flatten your back as well to prevent back pain and allow your lungs to fully expand
• Keep your head straight, your eyes forward and shoulders relaxed
• Take smaller, more frequent steps to protect your knees. Roll your feet from heel to toe as well
• Swing your arms freely
• Breathe deeply through your nose or mouth. Oxygen will refresh your muscles as you move
Make walking a daily habit; choose that time of the day that’s most convenient for you and avail yourself of the mental, emotional and physical benefits of this pleasurable exercise!