Walking boasts many benefits; here’s how to reap them
Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. It’s safe, simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t require practice. But during winter, many tend to nix it from their routine. That doesn’t have to be the case.
“When starting an exercise program start out slow and easy and make it a routine,” said Saadia Hussain, MD, a family practitioner with Mercy Health – Wellington Primary Care office.
When beginning a fitness walking program, it is important not to get discouraged, she says. Most people start out with a brisk 10 minute walk. Do this everyday for a week. If this is too easy, add five minutes to your walks each week until you are walking as long as desired.
“Your goal should be 30 minutes a day, five-days-a-week,” Dr. Hussain said. “Incorporate walking into your daily activities. You can walk at work, take the stairs, walk around the building, even park farther away from the office.”
Joining an expensive gym isn’t mandatory. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothing and a little motivation.
The buddy system can also be helpful. When determining a healthy pace, Dr. Hussain says you should be able to maintain a conversation with the person you are walking with, but your breathing should be heavier than normal. Talking should come in shorter bursts,
Additional walking tips include:
- Drink plenty of fluid; eight eight-ounce glasses a day is recommended
- Focus on your posture, aiming to stand tall and straight
- Incorporate a warm up, cool down and stretching
Many people don’t start a workout routine, because they associate hitting the gym with working out hard almost every day of the week. However, Dr. Hussain says that starting small is often most beneficial.
“Don’t be afraid to start a mild to moderate exercise program. Any amount of walking is good,” Dr. Hussain said. “Research shows physical activity has a lot of health benefits.”
Health benefits from regular exercise include:
- Weight management
- Controlled blood pressure
- Lower risk of heart attack
- Higher ‘good’ cholesterol
- Reduced risk of stroke, cancer and diabetes
- Lower risk of osteoporosis
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
If you have any concerns about starting an exercise program, consult your doctor. Mercy Health has many points of care throughout Ohio and Kentucky, with physicians available to see you. Find a doctor near you today.