There are a great many good exercises for building a healthy body. There’s pumping iron, calisthenics, push-ups and more. But I think we’ll start with something a bit more basic and something that almost anyone can do – walking.
What are the benefits of just walking?
The Mayo Clinic website offers this:
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 and lose body fat
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve muscle endurance
- Increase energy levels
- Improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthen immune system
- Reduce stress and tension
Not bad for just taking a walk.
Of course, not everybody can start out at the “brisk” pace they recommend. Start at your own speed. If it takes 20 minutes to walk around the block, and you have to stop a couple times, so be it. It’s a beginning. In no time you’ll be doing it in 15 minutes without the stops and then you can up the time and distance. The important thing is that you do it!
Since our bodies tend to get used to physical activity, continue to increase your intensity, as you are able, to improve your fitness levels. You can increase the intensity of your walks by:
- walking farther
- walk up hills
- walk with hand weights
- vary your walking speed by including some spurts of faster walking – alternate 10 minutes of your normal speed with 5 minutes of faster walking, back and forth for as long as you can go.
Some suggestions to help make regular walking a pleasurable form of physical activity include:
- vary where you walk – find areas which you find pleasing. We find parks, botanic gardens or just tree lined streets are more fun to walk on than busy streets or business districts.
- walk with friends
- walk with your dog – this gives both of you exercise
- Use Walking sticks (Such as Nordic Walking Trekking Poles). These allow your arms to help propel you forward and upward, whether walking on flat ground or uphill, poles can help to keep your balance, improve stability and increase your average speed.
So, get started walking, then increase it as you can. It may be tough at first, but after a while you’ll find it easier and easier as you walk yourself to better health.