READY, SET, WALK
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Although walking is safe and dependable, do not start any sort of exercise regimen without first consulting your doctor. Once you have received a clean bill of health, keep these points in mind.
START SLOWLY AND BUILD UP
If you are what physicians call “chronically sedentary”, do not try walking 10 miles the first time you get off the couch. Start off with a small goal in mind, like walking for 10 minutes at a time, then slowly build up how long you are walking. If you still have difficulty, break up your walk time and spread it out over the course of the day. After a short time, you will be able to do more of it at once. The key is to not get discouraged.
Keep in mind, especially if you are just starting to walk, that you have to come back to your starting point. Make sure you can cover the entire distance comfortably, and not just the first part of it.
That brisk pace of 3-4 miles per hour is not as daunting as it seems. It works out to a mile every 15-20 minutes. And people who are new to exercising do not have to hit that speed immediately to benefit from walking. The Nurses’ study pointed out that even people with a slower pace had a 32% reduction in heart disease compared with people who did not walk at all.
FIND A FRIEND TO WALK WITH
It not only makes the time go faster, but the companionship makes it easier to go walking on the days when the last thing you feel like doing is exercising.
USE A PEDOMETER OR SMARTPHONE
A pedometer allows you to measure how many steps you take daily. With a pedometer you can incorporate walking activities into your daily life and keep a record of how far you walk. Set new goals to increase the amount of steps you take each day. Pedometers are now readily available and quite inexpensive. They can help you guide and evaluate your exercise activities.
KEEP A LOG
You can log your activity on a chart or in a journal. The easiest way to track yourself is to download an app onto your smartphone. The app can map your walking course, calculate your pace, and help you manage time and distance.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
Walking strengthens the large leg muscles, including the quadriceps and the gluteus muscles. However, it will not give you a body-building physique. If you want that, you will have to do weight training. Walking alone is not a terrific way to lose weight – you have to combine regular exercise with a reduced-calorie diet. Do expect walking to make you feel better, both physically and mentally.
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