Walking for Fitness
Walking is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to keep fit. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a pedometer to help you count your steps, and you will be well on your way to working up to the 10,000 steps per day recommended by the US Surgeon General as one of the ways to meet the suggested 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity, that is, activity which increases the heart rate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Statistics, complied in 2012, the percentage of American adults who reported walking at least once in the past week for a period of 10 minutes or longer increased from 56% in 2005 to 62% in 2010. Therefore, the message that walking is good for you is starting to filter through.
Walking can be performed almost anywhere, in any season, if you use a little common sense with regard to the weather. Dress in layers in the winter, and stay out of the sun and walk during the cooler parts of the day during the summer. Try snowshoeing to make your workout a little tougher if you live in an area with snow. Walk in the water along the shore at the beach if you live near the coast. It will help tone up your calves.
Walking is an ideal weight-bearing exercise that builds both muscle and bone. Depending on the speed and location you are walking in, it can raise your heart rate to keep it fit as well. Good choices are walking up flights of stairs, or power walking at a speed of about 4 to 5 miles an hour.
Swinging your arms can also add to the workout. Some people up the intensity by carrying a weighted backpack. Others carry hand weights and lift them as they walk. Avoid ankle weights, however, as they can cause injury if you trip on them, and they can also harm your ankles.
Walking has been shown to be as good for fitness as jogging, but with far less impact. It is also great for weight loss because it burns calories. Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can be as bad for your health as smoking.
So get off the sofa and away from the computer, lace up your shoes, and start your walking routine today.