How to Get Fit by Walking Every Day
A goal within the reach of nearly everyone is to get fit by walking every day. Research over many years has shown that the more fit we are the less likely we are to die prematurely and the lower risks we have for serious chronic diseases such as heart disease, some cancers and diabetes. Walking is easy, relatively injury-free, and inexpensive. Learn how to get fit by walking every day.
Review the Health Benefits of Physical Activity
First, really focus on some of the key documented benefits of regular physical activity. These include, for adults:
- Lower risks of: premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer
- Improved cardio (aerobic) and muscular fitness
- Better weight control
- Better balance and prevention of falls
- Lower incidences of depression
- For older adults, better cognitive functioning
Go to chapter 2 of the Health & Human Services report “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans” for a list of (and discussion about) all the benefits of regular physical activity. These critical health benefits should be enough to motivate you to get fit by walking every day.
Learn the Key Recommendations for Physical Activity
You should know that substantial health benefits can be yours for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Brisk walking is such an activity. Even greater health benefits are derived from 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, and virtually all of the potential health benefits available through aerobic activity accrue when you do 420 minutes (7 hours) a week at moderate intensity.
So you can get all those health benefits and get fit by walking every day for an hour at an aerobic pace. An aerobic pace is one that causes sighing respiration and an elevated heart rate, but is not enough to leave you gasping for air. You’d be able to talk but not sing when you’re walking aerobically.
There are also recommendations for muscular strength and endurance activity (two or more times a week on non-consecutive days) which go beyond aerobic activity.
Make Your Plan
You’ll need to make a realistic plan to get fit by walking every day. Your plan should specify where, when and for how long you will be walking each day. It should include a walking partner if possible, to add extra motivation.
If you’ve been physically inactive for a while you will probably need to allow yourself plenty of time to work up to aerobic walks of some length. You could even decide to do multiple aerobic walks a day as long as each one is aerobic for at least 10 minutes. But you need to progress gradually so adjust your plan if it turns out to be too ambitious.
Get Medical Clearance
Before you begin implementing your walking plan be sure to get medical clearance for your proposed exercise program. If you don’t have a regular doctor then find a good one and start with a thorough physical and medical history to ensure that you are able to safely get fit by walking every day.
Start Walking Every Day
If you’re serious about getting fit you should start out walking a little bit every day. It’s most important to establish the daily habit and then gradually build up the minutes per day walked. Eventually you will be really disappointed if you have to miss a day. Making it a habit is a key step to get fit by walking every day.
Match Your Effort to Your Goals
You can get most health benefits with 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week, so if that is your goal, 25 minutes per day will do it. If your goal is to get all of the health benefits possible from aerobic work you’ll need an hour a day or 7 hours a week of brisk walking. But if one of your key goals is to lose weight, then you should aim at 1.5 hours a day (10.5 hours per week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking). Whatever your goals are, you can reach them and get fit by walking every day.
Monitor Your Progress
Record your daily walks in a log or spreadsheet so that you will be able to see the increase in your walking time on a weekly or monthly basis. Seeing your progress as your cardio endurance improves can be highly motivating and is itself proof that you can get fit by walking every day.
Reward Your Achievements
If you reward your walking achievements and fitness milestones regularly it will help you stick with your daily walking. Food is not an appropriate reward. Buying books or music, going to a concert or a movie, treating yourself to a massage, these are examples of appropriate rewards. Milestone achievements can be in terms of hours walked per week or month, number of days walked per month or cumulatively (such as every 50 days walked), and so on. Choose milestones that get you excited as you get fit by walking every day.
Final Tips on Getting Fit by Walking
If you stop walking for a while because of illness or other disruption in your life, don’t give up; get back to your daily walks as soon as you can and continue with your program.
When the weather outside is really uncomfortable you can walk indoors at a mall or at home to a walking video.
Make your daily walks a key priority in your life and you will be really glad you did as you get and stay fit.