- Exercise & Fitness
The Benefits of Walking for Fitness
Finding time to exercise is challenging, but this doesn’t mean you need to give up on your goal of losing weight and getting into shape. To fit more physical activity into your day, consider taking a look at the many benefits of walking.
Start Walking for Fitness
There are three big reasons you'll want to strongly consider taking walks on a regular basis: accessibility, convenience, and cost.
If you still have nightmares of high school gym class humiliation, you may be avoiding physical activity because you've convinced yourself you're just not an athletic person. Walking, however, is the perfect workout routine for beginners. You've been walking your entire life, so it won't be hard to get into the swing of things.
The average person burns about 100 calories by walking one mile. This means walking just four miles per day, four days per week would allow you to burn about 1,600 calories. With no other changes in your lifestyle, that amounts to a half pound weight loss each week.
One of the most important benefits of walking is that it's a convenient form of exercise. If you think you don't have time to workout, starting a walking plan is a great idea. A 10 minute walk, three times per day during the workweek is enough exercise to meet the CDC's recommended guidelines for moderate intensity aerobic activity.
Here are some ideas for fitting walking into your daily routine:
- Instead of driving, walk to work or while running your errands
- Walk during your lunch break
- Spend some time talking with friends while power walking through your local mall
- Go for a walk with your kids after dinner
To get the maximum benefits of walking, you should be able to carry on a steady conversation as you're exercising. If you're walking so fast you can't catch your breath, it's best to slow down.
When you're on a tight budget and watching every penny you spend, the idea of beginning an exercise program can seem overwhelming. Who has extra money for a gym membership or expensive sports equipment? However, all you need to start walking is a good pair of sneakers and some comfortable clothes. Just remember the following tips to make sure you're keeping proper form as you're walking:
- Pick up your speed instead of trying to take longer steps. Your stride will naturally start to lengthen once your speed increases.
- Keep your elbows at a right angle to allow your arms to swing more quickly.
- Focus on correct posture. Keep your eyes on the horizon and don't slouch your shoulders. There should be no sway in your back or forward leaning from the waist.
- Push off from your toes to generate a small boost from each step. To remember this tip about increasing the benefits of walking, imagine you're showing the person behind you the bottom of your shoes every time you move.
When you do have a bit of extra money to spend, a pedometer can be a useful tool. Inexpensive pedometers can be found at Walmart or Target for less than $20. They can help you keep track of how many steps you are taking in a day. With a pedometer, it’s easy to challenge yourself to work on walking more each week.
Making a meaningful lifestyle change can be hard work, so it’s a great idea to find a walking buddy who can help encourage you to stay active. If you don’t have a friend to walk with, however, you can still get information and encouragement from the following websites: