Getting in shape and reaching your weight-loss goals can seem like a daunting task, and starting an exercise regimen can be just as overwhelming. Should you join a gym? Should you look into hiring a personal trainer? Can you just follow along with some videos online? What should your first step be?
How about your first step? Literally.
Starting a walking program is one of the best things you can do to get in shape. And you can get started right away.
You can walk as relaxed or as hard as you want. You can do it pretty much anywhere, too—on a track, in the woods, on the beach, at the mall, around the city, or around your own neighborhood. You can listen to music while you walk, or talk with a friend. Walking can give you time to clear your mind. And it won’t cost you anything, either.
Tip: Check out our favorite app to find new routes near you, WalkJogRun
Best of all, walking provides numerous health benefits, including:
- Helping you burn calories and shed pounds
- Strengthening your bones and muscles
- Regulating your blood sugar level
- Reducing your risk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure
- Lowering your risk of breast and colon cancers
- Reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improving your mood and mental well-being
- Providing vital Vitamin D from the Sun
- Boosting your creativity
Three Steps to Fitness
While virtually anyone can begin a walking program, it’s important to follow a few simple steps in order to get the maximum benefit:
- Select a pair of shoes with good arch support, firm heels, and thick (but flexible) soles. Wear weather-appropriate clothes that will keep you both dry and comfortable.
- Use proper form while you walk: Keep your chin up with your shoulders back slightly. Allow the heels of your feet to touch the ground first, then roll our feet forward. Let your arms swing naturally.
- Warm up by walking slowly, then gradually increase your speed. While you want to increase your heart rate, you should still be able to speak and breathe easily while you walk. Slow down your pace to cool down.
As with any type of exercise, be sure to drink plenty of water.
Starting out can actually be pretty easy. Just head to the door and keep going! Walk (anywhere!) for 10 minutes, then just walk back. Do this every other day for a whole week. Most will find it surprisingly easy. Then, simply add 5 minutes to your walk the next week, maybe add an extra day to your week, or both.
Once you’ve established a good walking routine, consider taking things up a notch!
Sources: heart.org, mayoclinic.org, nih.gov