Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walking towards better health

Most of us can definitely use more exercise in our daily routine. Let’s face it, without your health, what do you have? So, every year we set out with lofty goals to go to the gym, run, swim, bike and so on. By March gym attendance drops, motivation wanes and we set aside our goals because getting to the gym or pool was time consuming, traffic and parking was stressful, the gym was crowded, expensive and quite frankly we just got bored with the whole thing. So what can we do? A simple answer is walk. Walking is the oldest and least expensive form of exercise and most importantly it works!! About.com reports that “Walkers have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other killer diseases. They live longer and get mental health and spiritual benefits.” USA Today reports on a recent study conducted by The Active Living Research Program at San Diego State University, that “People did 40 to 50 minutes more physical activity per week if their neighborhoods were designed for pedestrians…” which ultimately led to the conclusion that these people were healthier and leaner overall.

In addition, walking can be the easy, inexpensive and fun way to get started on a new fitness lifestyle. The Walking Site, a website dedicated to walking, says it best, “The toughest thing about starting a fitness program is developing a habit.” Too many of us rush out in the beginning and push ourselves too hard. This can result in fatigue, possible injury and worse burnout. To combat this, start off slow. Walkingsite.com recommends, “…walk for 10 minutes, and walk back. That's it? Yes, that's it. Do this every day for a week. If this was easy for you, add five minutes to your walks next week (total walking time 25 minutes). Keep adding 5 minutes until you are walking as long as desired.” Not only will this plan get you healthier in the process, it is attainable, and will start to modify your behavior until physical activity becomes a part of your everyday life. Most importantly make sure to do this regularly for at least a month as 21 days of routine behavior is the widely accepted time frame for creating (or changing) a habit. This accomplishment, change in everyday activity and how you feel will no doubt take you on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

As well as being healthy, walking is a peaceful and interesting way to get exercise. As opposed to squeezing into the gym and watching TV while you walk on a device that tries to mimic the natural world, instead get outside and see what your community has to offer. Watching the seasons change, visiting a new business in your community, walking your kids to school are all fun adventures that will surely take your mind off the fact that you are actually getting exercise. Yes, sometimes the weather can be less than perfect, but with the right preparation a brisk walk to a local coffee shop can be a healthy and invigorating adventure during any season. So, gather up your family, friends and neighbors and get out and walk to your health, the rewards tomorrow could Literally change your life.

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