In generations past, walking was the major way to get anywhere you needed to go. Now it’s just a few steps to the car. As transportation options became more available, walking became an “exercise” instead of a regular activity.
Popular magazines are full of “walking programs” as if we suddenly forgot how to put one foot in front of another. Walking is recommended by doctors if you’re recovering from a heart attack, have high blood pressure or suffer from arthritis.
Psychologists encourage walking if you are feeling depressed, anxious or stressed. Health coaches and personal trainers set you up with a walking program as a beginning point for developing an exercise program.
Why walking? Well, you already know how to do it, so only a few refinements are needed in technique. Walking for exercise is great at almost any age. If you’re very fit, you can train as a race walker.
Walking is the ideal exercise to help you get rid of stress because:
- It’s free – there’s no additional money needed to get started. All you need is a sturdy pair of sport shoes, soft socks and comfortable, nonrestrictive clothing.
- You’re not limited to a gym – you can walk on the street, in the mall or around the floors of your office building.
- It provides a low impact exercise option that’s great for building aerobic capacity when high impact aerobics are too hard on the knees or joints.
- It merges into your life as you find ways to walk more – such as parking farther from your destination or choosing to walk to nearby places.
- It easily becomes an activity to share with a friend. Instead of making a lunch date, agree to go on a walk and have a light snack when you return.
- It helps cut heart disease risk in half if you only walk for thirty minutes, six days a week, which is important if you’re suffering from extreme stress in your life.
- It staves off aging by keeping the body tone and trim – plus it gives oxygen to the cells that support healthy skin.
Get on your walking shoes. If you want to keep track of your walking, buy a pedometer to measure your steps. Then set a goal to add 500 more steps each day to your walking. You can walk your way to good physical and mental health.