How to Kick-start Your Walking Program

Want to start walking your way to good health and fitness? Follow these guideline…

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise to stay healthy and fit. It also helps in weight loss. And it has other advantages too – it’s free, it’s simple, it doesn’t put pressure on your joints.

Here are some tips to begin your walking program.

  • The first thing you need to do is allot a specific time every day. Decide whether you are going to walk in the mornings or evenings, depending on which is more convenient for you. Invest in a pair of good walking shoes as bad shoes can cause injuries. Select a lightweight cushioned pair that breathes and invest in cotton socks. Besides, make sure you have some loose, comfortable clothes that don’t restrict you – tracksuits, T-shirts, shorts – preferably in cotton.
  • Make sure that you warm up before you start your walk. Do some stretches and flexibility exercises for five to ten minutes. Begin walking at an easy pace for five minutes. Then step up the speed.
  • In the beginning, you might be able to walk at a pace of 3 km per hour – that’s okay. As your fitness levels increase your stamina and pace will simultaneously increase. In the initial phase start off with a 15-minute walk. As your endurance levels build up aim for at least an hour a day.
  • Once you are walking for an hour a day, time does not matter, it is the distance you cover which will make the difference. Common sense will tell you that brisk walking will burn more calories than casual strolling. Concentrate on building distance before you build speed.
  • Posture and technique are very important when walking. Avoid slouching and shuffling your feet. For best results, keep your back straight, chin up, shoulders relaxed and stomach pulled in. Breathe normally.
  • If you are going on a long walk, carry a bottle of water and some dried fruit in a Ziploc bag.
  • If you can’t walk for an extended period, break it up. Walk for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. Or even do twenty minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening.
  • Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Most of us walk at least 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, so attaining 10,000 is not a tough task. Build up to it slowly at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  • If you don’t want to walk alone, rope in a family member, friend or neighbor. Or check out walking groups in your city or town.
  • Never forget your safety. If you walk at night, make sure it’s in an area that is well lit and not isolated. Wear reflective clothes or bright colors for visibility.
  • After your walk, remember to cool down with some stretches and breathing exercises. Don’t neglect this. And remember; always drink plenty of water after your walk to prevent dehydration.

Apart from the fitness aspect, walking is a very relaxing activity, particularly if you choose a quiet road bordered with trees, a park or the beach. Strap on your iPod and get moving to the rhythm of the music, savor the beauty around you, or even meditate while you walk. Come home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!