Did you know walking is the best exercise for your health?
Walking is a low-risk activity and easy to start. It can help keep you fit and reduce your risk of serious diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more. It is unbelievable the number of advertisements on television for devices, programs and equipment that are available for purchase to help you melt away pounds, develop six pack abs, or cleanse your way to good health. If you are truly interested in getting healthy and losing those pounds use the equipment you were born with: your feet.
All you really need is a good pair of walking shoes and socks, and comfortable clothing, nothing more special than that. Then the next question is, “How do I start?”. The answer is to put your shoes and socks on, get off the couch/chair, go to the door and go outside and walk. Here are a few tips to get you started with your walking adventure.
- Begin with short distances. Start with a stroll that feels comfortable (perhaps 5-10 minutes) and gradually increase your time or distance each week by 10-20 percent by adding a few minutes or blocks. If it’s easier on your joints and your schedule to take a couple of 10 to 20 minute walks instead of one long walk, do it!
- Focus on posture. Keep your head lifted ,tummy pulled in and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally. Avoid carrying hand weights since they put extra stress on your elbows and shoulders. Don’t over stride. Select a comfortable, natural step length. If you want to move faster, pull your back leg through more quickly.
- Breathe deeply. If you can’t talk or catch your breath while walking, slow down. At first, forget about walking speed. Just get out there and walk!
- Track your progress. Although experts recommend walking at least 30 minutes a day, there are no hard and fast rules. Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean three 10 minute walks over the course of the day. The best schedule is one that keeps you walking and keeps you fit!
Some fun facts about walking:
- On average, every minute of walking can extend your life by 1.5 to 2 minutes.
- Walking an extra 20 minutes each day will burn off 7 pounds of body fat per year.
- To burn off 1 plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field.
There are many websites devoted to walking. For example, the American Heart Association, www.heart.org, has a tremendous amount of information and tools to help you get started and to stay motivated.
Walking, is free, fun, inexpensive, and it requires no special training. Well what are you waiting for, stop reading the paper and go for a walk.
Submitted by: Halle Pardun, Burnett Medical Center Marketing Director
“Healthy Minute” is brought to you by healthyburnett.org