Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.
For example, regular brisk walking can help you to Maintain a healthy weight,
Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, Strengthen your bones and muscles, Improve your mood, Improve your balance and coordination. The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.
Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here’s how you’ll look when you’re walking:
- Your head is up. You’re looking forward, not at the ground.
- Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright.
- You’re swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK.
- Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward.
- You’re walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.
As you start your walking routine, remember to:
Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Wear comfortable clothes and gear appropriate for various types of weather. If you walk outdoors when it’s dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.
Choose your course carefully. If you’ll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf. If the weather isn’t appropriate for walking, consider walking in a shopping mall that offers open times for walkers.
Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you’d rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
Set yourself up for success. Start with a simple goal, such as, “I’ll take a 5- or 10-minute walk during my lunch break.” When your 5- or 10-minute walk becomes a habit, set a new goal, such as, “I’ll walk for 20 minutes after work.”
Find specific times for walks. Soon you could be reaching for goals that once seemed impossible.
Make walking enjoyable. If you don’t like walking alone, ask a friend or neighbor to join you. If you’re energized by groups, join a health club or walking group. You might like listening to music while you walk.
Vary your routine. If you walk outdoors, plan several different routes for variety. If you’re walking alone, tell someone which route you’re taking. Walk in safe, well-lit locations.
Take missed days in stride. If you find yourself skipping your daily walks, don’t give up. Remind yourself how good you feel when you include physical activity in your daily routine, and then get back on track.
Once you take that first step, you’re on the way to an important destination — better health.