Walking Your Way to Improved Health

Walk it Out! Tips for Walking Your Way to Improved Health and Wellness

One of the most natural forms of exercise, walking is an especially gentle and low-impact way to stay physically active. The National Institute on Aging suggests that walking for exercise can alleviate arthritis symptoms, help manage anxiety and depression, and promote overall heart health, among other perks. If you’ve always wanted to establish a consistent walking routine, we’ve got some tips for getting started.

Find Your Stride

The secret to a successful walking program is choosing a realistic plan and sticking to it. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that older adults engage in moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, for at least 2.5 hours per week. When spread out over seven days, that translates to about 20 minutes per day. That guideline isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, however; choose what works for your current fitness level, and build your walking program at your own pace. Check out this six-week beginner walking plan for an idea of how to gradually increase the difficulty of your walks. It may take several months of walking before you feel results, but stick with it and be patient with yourself!

Don’t Skip the Warm-Up

A gradual warm-up can prevent injuries and increase your comfort at any walking speed. Ankle circles, arm circles, toe points, torso twists, and the overhead reach are five simple moves to try before any brisk walk. All are done while standing; rest one hand on something for balance if needed. If you spend 30 seconds on each move, the whole routine takes under three minutes. In addition to these moves, remember to be mindful of your speed at the beginning of your walk. Try walking at a moderate speed for the first 3-5 minutes before ramping up to a brisker pace.

Consider a Walking Group

If you’re not confident in your ability to stick to a walking routine, why not join a walking group? Walkabout is a social networking walking group that’s been running daily group walks throughout San Diego for over 35 years. All walks are free, open to newcomers, and don’t require a reservation. You might also consider training programs that incorporate exercises for balance and strength, in addition to guided group walks. Mindful Fitness combines fitness walking with interval strength training, so that you engage all your muscles while building cardiovascular endurance.

Alternatively, perhaps you have a spouse, family member, or friend who can accompany you on your walks. A walking partner will help you stay committed to your fitness and wellness goals, while having fun along the way.

Get Out There!

Walking gives your entire system a boost and can be a key part of a healthy and independent lifestyle. Remember to be patient and realistic as you adapt to your new routine. The idea is to enjoy the benefits of exercise while learning your limits and getting to know your own body. Take a break if you need one, and be sure to consult your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups doctor if you have a chronic illness or other physical condition that requires extra vigilance before you start your walking program. Walking is an accessible and relaxing way to stay active. Get outside, walk, and enjoy yourself!


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