Walking 101: tips to help you move more
Walking is a great way to increase the amount of physical activity you do. These tips can get you started.
Walking is a low-risk physical activity that’s the perfect way to ease into moving more if you’ve been relatively sedentary. It can also be adapted to any fitness level, making it an extremely versatile way to increase fitness and improve your health.
In addition to helping you lose weight, walking offers a number of health benefits including:
- Helps reduce the risk of serious diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels
- May boost bone health
- Increases your energy and stamina
If you’re new to physical activity, there’s not much you need to get started. The only necessary gear is a good pair of supportive shoes and some comfortable clothes. You can get a set of headphones if you want to listen to music, a fitness tracker if you’re looking for some motivation or some fashionable workout gear, but none of that is needed.
Here’s how to ease into a regular walking routine:
- Start slow. Begin with short distances at a pace that feels comfortable to you. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend walking or the distance you cover by about 10-20% each week.
- Focus on technique. Find a comfortable natural stride and pay attention to your posture. Keep your head lifted and shoulders relaxed. Swing arms naturally.
- Vary your walk. As you get more comfortable, you can add some variety to your walk. Mix in intervals of faster walking with slower recovery periods. Find some hills or hit the trails to cover different terrain which will help you tone muscles and improve balance.
- Stretch. At the end of your walk, take a few minutes to stretch warmed up muscles to increase flexibility.
The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. This equates to about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, but you can break up your activity any way you want. Even short amounts of physical activity add up over time, so if you can’t commit to a 30-minute walk, try to fit in a few 10 – 15 minute walks throughout the day.