Everyone needs to do some walking every day to get around to do life’s basic tasks, but you can really use walking to get exercise, if you are serious about it. It does require some discipline to use walking to actually get health benefits, but it’s easy and fun. Walking is a great form of exercise because all it requires is a good pair of shoes and commitment. It also is easy on your joints and the rest of your body.
We also have been told by doctors that walking regularly can actually be better for maintaining low blood pressure than running. This is because walking tends to work all of the large muscles in the leg in a way that can reduce high blood pressure.
Read on for tips on how to begin walking for exercise for beginners.
1. Set A Reasonable Goal
If you have been a couch potato for a long time, that’s fine. Just don’t make the mistake of setting too aggressive goals for yourself. You can’t go from no physical activity at all to walking 10 miles a day. You should start out slow and do short times at first. You will want to write down your time goals in a notebook or calendar. It’s a great way to keep track of what you are accomplishing and you can monitor your successes.
2. Find a Place To Do Your Walking
You are going to be looking for places that are flat, straight, have a smooth walking surface and not a lot of traffic. The easiest choice is just in your neighborhood. If that is too boring for you or the roads are too steep or curved, there are many other places to consider:
- Go to your nearest high school. The schools will often let residents of the area use the track for walking and running.
- Drive to a nearby park.
- Some cities now have bike paths that also can be used for walking and running. They usually have very smooth surfaces and are free of car traffic.
- Shopping malls also are a great place to walk. Some malls will open their doors early, before the shops open, for walkers to do their thing.
- If you live near a beach or a body of water, walking along the shoreline can be a very relaxing and effective way to walk.
3. Make Your Playlist
The most challenging part of walking for me is that it can get boring. This is why you really want to have a great playlist on your Ipod or MP3 player when you are walking. Think about adding music that allows your mind to wander and to think about other aspects of your life. Or, you can listen to upbeat music that will keep your motivation high as you walk. Walking is a great way to reflect on your life and plan for the future, and your musical choices can help you do that.
4. Develop a Good Attitude For Low Level Exercise
Walking is a marathon and is not a sprint. You need to be mentally prepared for a slow, steady form of exercise. Walking is not an exercise that is going to give you instant results. If you incorporate a daily 3-4 mile walk into your life and stick to it, you are going to see benefits for sure after a few months. You should not overdo walking to try to get visible benefits in a week or two, or you will burn out. You are doing your body a LOT of good with your commitment to walking, it just will take you some time to see it and feel it.
Drink about 16 ounces of water the hour before you walk. Drink more if you are going to walk for a longer period than an hour or so. You also are going to want to choose to walk in the morning or evening in the hot summer months, most likely.You should not gulp down a lot of water right before you walk, either, or you may get cramps.
6. Choose an Easy First Walk
Choose a path that allows you to get back to your starting point easily. Perhaps you can walk around your block or around a track for your first few walks. If you feel you can do more than you set out to do, then go for it!
7. Choose a Time
Decide how many minutes you are going to walk that day. Do not worry too much about the distance. Time is more important. Your walks will get faster and longer as you get in better shape.
8. Extend the Time
Every day, try to increase your walking time by a minute. Do not worry if you are too tired to do this at first. Just keep doing your same walk and keep trying to add a minute every day. Generally, try to increase your walking time by 5 minutes per week. After you are able to walk for at least 45 minutes, increase your speed and difficulty. Get off the oval track and into the streets where there are curves and hills.
If you follow these easy walking tips, you should be able to walk for at least an hour after a few months. Good luck!