To start your walking program:
- If you’ve been inactive, start walking three times a week at a stroll for 20 minutes. Work your way up to five or so times a week, 30 minutes per session, for a total of 2.5 to 3 hours per week.
- Choose distance or time. Some walkers focus on distance, others target time. Ultimately, it’s about speed. If you can walk five miles but it takes you five hours to do it, it’s not a fit level of work. So use both distance and time, as well as heart rate.
- Check the intensity. Exercising at a particular heart rate percentage enables you to gauge the difficulty of your workout.
- You can check your heart rate by manually checking your pulse or purchase a simple heart rate monitor. Keep in mind, however, that the traditional heart rate formula standards do not fit everyone.
How to Stay Motivated
Here are simple ways to keep your walks interesting and help you stay motivated:
- Wear a pedometer. Bit by bit, boost your daily steps. Wear a pedometer for a week to see what days you have the most number of steps. Then try to repeat the activities of that day and add another 500 steps the following week. Keep it up until you reach 10,000 steps a day.
- Keep a walking journal. It serves as a motivator by allowing you to see your progress.
- Get a walking partner. A walking buddy provides accountability. Neither wants to let the other person down.
- Sign up for a race or charity walk. It gives you a goal to shoot for, which may motivate you to stick with a program.
- Find support online. Programs such as the American Heart Association’s have helped thousands of people to get started walking. There are many free online programs that include a monthly newsletter with health tips and recipes, an online activity and nutrition tracker, access to an online journal, as well as the ability to connect with others for support and motivation.
The Benefits of Walking
Weight loss isn’t the only benefit of a walking program. Regular walking helps lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, increases bone strength, and improves circulation.
Also, it’s important to remember that, especially in the beginning, exercise doesn’t have to be hard to be effective. The recommended 30 minutes can be broken up into two, 15-minute sessions or even three, 10-minute sessions, making it easy to weave into a busy lifestyle. Just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life.