Benefits of Walking

13 01 2013

Walking is one of my favorite exercise activities. My husband, John and I first started walking to be healthier. It is a low-impact exercise, accessible, and safe. And, it was an exercise we could do together. We used to walk every night after work. Our work schedules don’t allow us to do it as regularly as we used to, but we still try to work it in when we can. Sometimes we don’t talk much and other times we discuss our kids, work, dreams, or the neighbor that may have a new For Sale sign in their yard. What is wonderful about this time together is the lack of distractions. It is just the two of us and our dog. It has become a part of our daily lives that we need. We keep each other accountable to meet that need. When I ask him if we are walking today, he already has his jacket on and is getting the dog’s leash ready.

So, besides the connection we nourish during our walks, we know we are receiving other benefits with this routine: lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure, managing weight, reducing diabetes risk, and improving mood.

If you are considering a regular walking routine, first consider purchasing comfortable shoes with proper support and shock absorption. Also, choose the appropriate clothing for the weather. You may want to consider layering, so you can add or remove during the walk. If you are walking at dawn or dusk remember to wear clothing in bright colors or reflective tape to be seen after dark.

Begin your walk with a 5-minute warm up increasing your pace until you feel warm. This will warm up the muscles and help to avoid injury. If you have been walking routinely, keep going. If you are just starting out, take it slow and easy, walking only as fast and as far as feels comfortable. If it is only for a few minutes, then that is your starting point. Continue with this same walk, 5-6 times a week, increasing time or distance each week until you are walking 30-60 minutes most days of the week.

Once you are walking regularly, you will want to check your heart rate to gauge your intensity and maximize your workout. One way to check your heart rate is to wear an electronic heart rate monitor. Another option is to stop walking and check your pulse manually at the neck or wrist. Count your pulse: _____ beats in 10 seconds x 6 = _____ beats/minute

Knowing your heart rate, you will now want to figure your target heart rate zone to be able to set your pace. A standard target heart rate zone formula is:

220 – your age = maximum heart rate

Maximum heart rate x .60 = low end of target heart rate zone

Maximum heart rate x .80 = high end of target heart rate zone

After your warm up you will want to strive to keep your heart rate within the low and high end of your target heart rate zone.

Toward the last 5 minutes of your workout, start to slow down to reduce stress on the heart and muscles. Then stretch the legs, holding each stretch for approximately 15-30 seconds.

Give walking a try; you will be glad you did. It may be difficult at first, but the first step is the hardest.

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Find a buddy to walk with and keep each other motivated and accountable.

Body: Notice how you feel when you are through with your workout. Be proud of yourself for doing things to be healthier.

Soul: Next time you feel down or sorry for yourself, think of how you can help one other person. You will lift your spirits when you lift up theirs.

I would love to hear from you.  Contact me through email at Tammy@TammYoga.com and Facebook at TammYoga and Twitter @TammYoga.

Namaste

Tammy

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