Walk your way to good health

Walking is a simple and wonderful way to keep fit…

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In this multi-tasking world, we all live under constant and different levels of stress. This in turn translates into eating unhealthy, working long hours and leading sedentary lives. Which again mean a number of illnesses – both physical and mental that can take their toll?

Most of us bemoan the fact that we have no time for physical exercise. But who are we kidding? We have 24 hours in a day… and is taking time out atleast for half an hour everyday asking for too much?

Let’s begin with the simplest forms of fitness. While all of us may vociferously agree, ‘health is indeed wealth’, it’s time to literally walk the talk. Walking is gentle; it’s low-impact exercise and when done outdoors, can ease you slowly not just into physical health but mental well-being as well. Walking is inexpensive, safe and the simplest way to exercise.

Why should you walk?

Medically, walking offers a host of benefits. These include:

# Helping lower your bad cholesterol.

# Raising the good cholesterol.

# Lowering blood pressure.

# Reducing the risk of or managing Type 2 diabetes.

# Managing weight

# Enhancing your mood

# Helping you stay strong and fit.

Now, that you know why you should walk, here are some things to bear in mind before starting off on a regular walking programme.

# Get the right gear

A good pair of walking shoes and loose-fitting clothing can get you started off on that great walk. The shoes should have proper arch support and a firm heel.

# Warm up

Just before walking, you can warm up by doing some stretching exercises. Increase your pace when you feel warm by just walking in place.

# Slow and steady

Do not attempt to walk for a longer distance and time on the first day. If you’ve been inactive lately, it’s best to walk only as far as you can… if you are tired easily, then it’s time to stop and start again the next day. After a few short sessions over a few days, slowly built up to 15 minutes to half an hour upto thrice a week.

# Get a buddy

Sometimes, walking alone may be boring. Get a friend to walk along with you and be surprised at how you motivate each other easily. But don’t let slow down just to catch up on gossip. Talk but walk briskly at the same time. Sometimes, being part of a walking group also works wonders.

# Get into the groove

If you prefer walking alone, tune into your iPod or music player. Listening to your favourite music can encourage you to walk more and making it an enjoyable task.

# Get into the habit

Make walking a part of everyday life. You do this by

# Walking part of your journey to walk

# Taking the stairs at the office instead of the lift.

# Leaving the car behind for short journeys.

# Going for a stroll with family after dinner.

Stay motivated

Try and take different routes everyday while walking. Monitor your increase in fitness and how you feel while you walk. Make this the time to think about yourself, how to be positive – ‘me-time’ you need to focus only on yourself. Keep your walking regular and increase your efforts slowly and at your own pace.

Walking is definitely a wonderful pastime and it helps you to keep fit too. So take those initial steps… and get walking. All the best!