Wondering which workout works best? It may just be walking! Walking is a fantastic all-around aerobic exercise, and one of the most available — and least expensive — workout options out there. It doesn’t require an expensive gym or a personal trainer, and you can do it anytime, anywhere!
The American Council on Exercise says walking is likely the best way to get active and stay healthy. After following 13,000 people for over eight years, they found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised. Their advice? Start slowly and build up from there. Even five minutes a day is better than nothing!
Now you may know that walking helps your heart and reduces your waistline, but did you know it also cuts your cancer risk? Researchers say a half an hour of walking per day can keep cancer at bay, or increase the survival odds of those who get cancer. Why? Those who walk on a regular basis are much less likely to be obese, and obesity is a major risk factor for many types of cancer, including breast cancer. So, instead of thinking of your daily walk as “just exercise,” think of it as a gift you’re giving yourself and your family — the gift of a long and healthy life! Doesn’t that just make you want to go put on your walking shoes right now? Sounds like a good idea!
Here are few secrets on how to get your walking workout started on the right foot:
- Get good shoes: Go to a shoe store and have new walking shoes professionally fitted. There are so many brands and models available — they can help you find the perfect fit for your unique feet!
- Ease into it: Start slowly! Gradually increase your pace and distance until you reach your ultimate goal, rather than overdoing it and getting injured right from the start.
- Pace Yourself: Shoot for a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation without being winded. If you can’t chat, you’re going too fast! (Get a walking buddy to help with this — and you can keep each other motivated, too!)
- Pay attention to form: Keep your head erect, back straight, and your abdomen flat. Land on the heel of your foot and roll forward to push off on the ball of your foot. Swing your arms freely at your side! If you find yourself getting sore after your walks, it may be your gait. If it continues, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about how to correct it.
- Stay hydrated: Aim to drink at least 8 to 12 ounces of water every 30 minutes while walking.
- Challenge Yourself: Look for terrain that includes some variations! You’ll burn more energy walking up and down hills than on flat ground. But if you’re having trouble catching your breath, slow down and avoid hills until you increase your ability.
Aim for at least 20 minutes a day and you’ll be well on your way to a longer, healthier life! It’s as easy as that!