Step into a walking program: Start smart, walk strong

April 24, 2017 | by Dan Johnson
Categories: Healthy Driven Life
Walking is something most of us do every day. It's usually easy and something we don’t think much about.

This is why walking is such a great entry into exercise. Walking is a form of low-impact cardiovascular endurance training that almost anyone can do anytime, anywhere. 

So now you're thinking, “I know how to walk, how should I implement a walking exercise routine?”

The first aspect and most important one is consistency. Make it a habit and schedule it in your day planner or phone. It is just as important as a doctor's or dentist's appointment. 

There are three things you need to consider when planning a walking program: frequency, intensity and time. Essentially, how often you should walk, how long you should walk and how difficult should the walk be every week.

A great starting point is 2 times a week for 20 minutes. In terms of intensity, use the talk test. If you can’t talk at all while walking, you’re walking too fast. If you can carry on a conversation with relative ease, you should walk faster.

It’s always a great idea to start conservatively. It’s not a race — at least not yet. After the first two weeks, add a third day of walking, keeping the time at 20 minutes.

This would also be a great time to add some simple strength exercises to your walking program, such as body-weight squats, hip bridges and even planks for your core. These can be done before or after every walk.

Include some light stretching of your hamstrings, hips and your quadriceps after every walk to prevent soreness and injury. Also, drink plenty of water during and after your walks. 

After a month or so, and when you feel comfortable, you should aim for walking 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes each time.

Remember to change things up. If the weather is nice, hike outside. If it is cold and snowy, try renting some snow shoes and go for a walk. The point is, mix it up. Don’t always walk in the same place. You’ll get bored and more likely to stop your walking program.

Walking is and will always be a great way to stay healthy. It may seem simple at first, but if you challenge yourself and have fun with it, who knows? Maybe all that walking turns into doing your very first 5K … and that's when the race begins!

Our medically-based fitness centers and professional team of trainers and staff will help you reach your Healthy Driven goals. Drive your health forward at Edward-Elmhurst Health and Fitness.

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