Why Walking Is A Good Way To Get Healthy
Getting fit and active by no means have to include gyms, machines or running until you feel sore and sick. In fact, you can reap the countless benefits of fitness by doing the simplest exercise ever, walking. While strenuous exercise is great if you enjoy it and you are able to do it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting your fitness kicks from a regime of brisk walking.
No matter your age, occupation or fitness level, walking can help you toward your health and fitness goals. Read on to find out more about this free and simple workout.
Why You Should Walk
Any regular movement and activity is to be encouraged, and walking is certainly included. If you’re considering incorporating walking into your fitness and health plan, here are some pros to get you motivated, and a few cons to consider before you begin.
1. Low-impact and easy on the joints
Even the fastest walking does not force a lot of impact onto the body like running or jumping-based exercise does. You don’t need to worry about injuring or wearing-out your joints when embarking on a walking workout plan, which is great for people with arthritis. Because of the low-impact, slow-burn nature of walking, you can sustain the exercise for longer durations than you would with running or more intensive workouts.
2. Burns calories
Even though walking is a gentler exercise option, it still burns enough calories to help reduce your weight and get to a healthy BMI. While we are on the topic of calories, don’t forget to incorporate a healthy diet as well as 50% of weight loss starts in the kitchen. For those that need an extra boost, you can always consider a natural weight loss supplement.
3. It’s great for the heart and lungs
Walking at a steady pace for a prolonged amount of time gets your heart pumping and your lungs working hard. Slowly but surely improving your cardiovascular fitness and lung health is paramount when you are aiming to raise your fitness and increase longevity.
4. Improves mental health and mood
Getting out in the fresh air and getting the blood rushing around your body really can do wonders for your mental state. Walking can help to ease anxiety and stress, and increases your quality of sleep. When you feel happy and positive, you are more likely to keep-up with your fitness plan, so it’s a winning workout all round.
1. Doesn’t target the upper body (not much, at least)
This is only a con if you have goals to build the muscles in your upper body and you want to do it solely by walking. However, you can tone your legs and get fit with walking, then do some simple bodyweight exercises such as tricep dips and press-ups at home to build the arms, back and chest.
2. It’s not weather-proof unless you have a treadmill available
If you live in a place where the climate is prone to turning cold and sour, you might have troubles keeping your walking plan consistent. If you’re relying on outdoor walking as your sole exercise method, you may need to look for alternate options in the colder months.
A gym membership for a few months is a good idea as you can walk on the treadmill or elliptical machine. You can find high-quality fitness classes on YouTube which you can do at home for no cost at all. You could try these at-home fitness sessions on days when walking outside is out of the question.
Who Would Benefit Most From Walking?
Really, there’s no one at all who wouldn’t benefit from walking if they are able to. However, walking can be a perfect exercise for people with particular needs and abilities.
1. Mature people
Walking is an ideal exercise method for older people as it doesn’t demand a lot of strenuous movement or overexertion. As we age, bone mass decreases and heightens the chances of developing osteoporosis and arthritis. This means that we need to be gentle on the bones and joints, but continue to exercise regularly at the same time. Walking helps to gently strengthen the bones and joints as we age.
2. Fitness newbies
Getting started on a fitness regime can be very nerve-racking if you haven’t exercised in a while, or ever. Starting with walking is the best way to get your body used to moving, your heart used to pumping, and your lungs used to working hard. You can set your own pace and improve over time.
By doing this, you prevent injuries or burn-out which can happen if you try to do too much too soon at the gym. Not only is walking safe, free and easy, it’s enjoyable too, so you can continue your fitness plans without the dread.
On top of this, don’t forget to keep your diet healthy and sensible. Stay away from crazy fad diets that only do more harm than good in the long run.
3. Fitness and weight-training fanatics
Of course, if you’re a mega-fit gym bunny with serious muscle-gain goals then walking isn’t going to get you there. However, walking can benefit even the most dedicated gym-goers by getting rid of lactic acid and stiff, sore muscles after a heavy session. The gentle cardiovascular workout is ideal for rest days when you still want to move, but need to give your muscles a rest.
How Long And How Fast To Walk?
This does depend somewhat on your fitness level and current abilities; a long, hard walk for you might be a breeze for someone else, and vice versa. Start by completing 4 30-minute walks a week for a couple of weeks at the start, walking at a pace which is comfortable for you. Start to lengthen the duration of your walks by 5-10 minutes every week. Once you feel ready, aim to walk fast enough so that you are breathing heavily and your stride is long. Eventually, you should aim to get out for a fast walk every day, for at least 40 minutes.
If time is a restriction, simply walk for as long as you can, but really ramp-up the speed to get your heart rate increasing.
What You Need: Equipment Checklist
Good shoes are paramount! Sore, aching, blistered feet are no fun, and walking really can cause some pain if your feet aren’t properly supported. Everyone’s feet and stepping-style is different and requires different footwear. Visit a sportswear store and tell them about your walking plans, they will assess your gait and find the most suitable shoe within your budget.
Counting your steps is a fantastic way to monitor your progress and keep-up with your goals. Many step-counters also count the number of calories you have burnt during your walk, which is motivating and fun to monitor.
The most popular, well-known fitness tracker is the Fitbit which has a wide range of features and abilities. You can also use your trusty smartphone to track your steps. Downloadable apps like MyFitnessPal have a built-in step tracker so you can keep a detailed log of your daily exercise efforts.
3. An enjoyable route
Find a place close to home where you enjoy walking. It might be along a beach, through leafy streets or simply around the bustling city. Wherever you live, plan out a few different routes to choose from so you can change it up.
You can also choose routes with a few hills and uneven terrain to get your muscles firing and heart rate soaring. Make it easy and convenient for you! The best routes are the ones you can reach by simply stepping out of your front door. Make sure your routes are safe and well-lit.
4. A plan
Write yourself a weekly plan with either a step goal, distance goal, or time goal. For example, you could plan for 4 walks a week, each lasting for one hour. Or, you could aim for 6 walks a week, each reaching 3 miles. Stick to your plan and build it up as you get fitter and stronger.
You’ve got nothing to lose by adding a few walks to your weekly schedule. Plus given it’s low impact, it’ one of the few exercises that can give you long-term benefits. Whether fitness, weight loss, bone health or general wellness is your motivation, get walking! Invest in some good shoes, a step-counter, and set some realistic yet appropriately-challenging fitness goals.