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Get Fit by Walking

The simple act of walking is a great way to exercise and has many added benefits. It's easy, requires no exercise equipment and can be relaxing and fun too!

Fitness-Walking2

Know the benefits

Physical activity doesn't need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.

For example, regular brisk walking can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Lift your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.

Consider your technique

Proper walking technique

Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking:

  • Your head is up. You're looking forward, not at the ground.
  • Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright.
  • You're swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK.
  • Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward.
  • You're walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.

Plan your routine

As you start your walking routine, remember to:

Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk outdoors when it's dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.

Choose your course carefully. If you'll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf.

Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.

Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.

Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you'd rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.

  • Set realistic goals
  • Track your progress
  • Stay motivated

Starting a walking program takes initiative. Sticking with it takes commitment. To stay motivated:

  • Set yourself up for success
  • Make walking enjoyable
  • Vary your routine
  • Take missed days in stride.

Once you take that first step, you're on the way to an important destination — better health.

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