Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Congratulations! You have decided to lead a healthier lifestyle and get more exercise. What better way than to build a walk into your daily routine? Walking is a free and simple activity. No matter what your age or fitness level you can start walking . It will increase your fitness, build strong muscles, relieve stress, help prevent diabetes and aid cardiovascular function.
You donít need any special gear. A strong pair of boots
or shoes with thick soles and a pair or two of moisture absorbing socks and you are ready to go. You can start right from your own front door, thus incurring no transport costs or expensive gym fees. Wear a reflective vest for safety.
Your daily walk must fit in to your normal daily routine so take stock of your daily activities and discover where you might fit in a 30 minute walk. Morning time before work may suit some people. You will then be energised and in top form to start your dayís work. For others an evening walk may be more suitable, helping to relieve the dayís stress and calm the mind before returning to family time at home. Choose the time which suits you best.
Decide on realistic goals . Do not be too ambitious. Better to start small. Start by walking for 15 minutes at least three times a week. Aim to build this up to 30 minutes five days a week. You can break this up into shorter time periods as long as it adds up to 30 minutes daily. Walk at an easy comfortable pace and build up distance before you increase your pace. Record your progress in a walking journal, a simple notebook recording day, date and time or distance walked. If you like to work to a more structured plan try this ten week walking plan. It takes several weeks to establish a habit but do not be discouraged if you have to miss a day here and there. Start again.
If you can, walk with a friend. You will both encourage each other. Choose a route which is safe and traffic free. Listen to music, an audio book or learn a language as you walk. Use only one ear- phone if you need to be alert for traffic or other environmental sounds.
Keeping a daily record of your walks time and distance will motivate you to continue. It is recommended that we take 10,000 steps daily. This can easy be measured with a pedometer which is a simple gadget for counting your steps. It is a great motivating tool as there is a sense of achievement when you reach the magic number.
Maintain good posture as you walk. Hold your head up and look straight ahead. Swing your arms and breathe in the fresh air. Admire and appreciate the buildings you pass, the flowers, the trees. Listen to the birds, get to know your neighbourhood and be proud of yourself!