Monday, June 25, 2012

Go for a Walk

Walking is one of the most essential human movements.  It's one that we really take for granted until we lose our mobility for some reason. Bipedalism is a defining characteristic of our species and probably contributed to our extraordinary success as a species.  When a baby takes her first steps, it's a defining milestone for her parents and a glorious accomplishment for her.  Walking is a great way to socialize with people along the way and in your neighborhood.  There's no need for special equipment or clothing to start a consistent walking program--you just have to go for a walk!  On top of all this, walking happens to be one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise that we can do with the least amount of downside health risks.

Here are few suggestions for making walking a consistent activity in your daily life:

Walk everywhere you can.  I live in a major city so I have the advantage of being able to walk almost anywhere.  If I get stranded, I can catch a train, bus or cab to make it back home.  If you live in the suburbs, find sidewalks and paths to walk on.  Walk through shopping centers, parks, around lakes or home from work.  When you play golf, walk instead of riding in a cart.

Walk outside. Don't worry about the rain, cold, or heat--just prepare accordingly.  We are so much more durable to the elements than we give ourselves credit for.  You'll benefit from fresh air and sunlight in addition to keeping abreast of what's going on in your town and seeing your neighbors.  Listen to music, audio books, or language lessons if you walk alone.

Walk your dog.  There's really no excuse for a fat dog because their activity and food is completely under the control of the human owner.  He'll thank you and you'll thank yourself.

Do errands on foot and carry you bags home.  Carry a backpack and pack reusable bags for your hands if your backpack isn't large enough for your purchases.  If you live far from a shopping center, walk 1 way and have someone pick you up or drop you off.  Check online for walking paths near you.  You might be surprised how many walking paths are connected to shopping areas.

Use a pedometer and make it into a game.  We all love games and getting your steps in each day or beating your family and friends is a great way to keep you on pace.

Count walks as exercise.  Give yourself credit for exercising any day you walk for more than 30 mins or so without stopping.  Exercise doesn't always have to hurt but it does need to be consistent.  A 130 pound woman burns 304 calories by walking 1 hour at a 4 mph pace; a 180 pound man would burn 421 calories.  What a great way to catch up with your spouse after work! 

Walk with a backpack to add intensity.  Carry around a 20 pound weight for a few miles and imagine how much better you will feel if you dropped any extra weight you might have on your body.

Make the effort to turn walking into a habit.  Daily walks consistently for a few weeks will make walking a lifelong habit that you'll benefit from in so many ways.

If you can walk, you can exercise.  What other excuse do you have for not working out today?

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