Take a walk

Walking is one of the best exercises we can do to keep our bodies healthy. Walking is inexpensive and available any time on any day of the week.

We’ve all heard that we need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days of the week. Now we are learning that this thirty minutes of exercise doesn’t need to be done all at once. You can break it up into three ten minute sessions or even six five minute sessions. What exercise should you do? Why not start with walking?

It doesn’t take a lot of energy or effort to start walking, this makes it the ideal exercise for those who haven’t exercised in a long time or maybe have never exercised. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that will help strengthen both muscles and bones, lowering your risk for osteoporosis. Walking improves our health by lowering our risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases like diabetes. It also lowers our blood pressure and reduces body weight and the risk of obesity.

The best part of walking, other than maybe buying a good pair of walking shoes, is that it’s free! Walking can be done at any age and anywhere. Many of us live in neighborhoods where sidewalks or low traveled roads allow walking. However, if you live in a congested area, you might want to try walking in the grocery store, at a local mall, or checking with a neighborhood school to see if they have walking times or a track you can walk around in good weather. Some gyms have time reserved for seniors to walk for little or no cost.

If you’re unable to walk, Michigan State University Extension recommends that you consider sitting in a chair or on the side of your bed and moving your legs up and down as though walking. You’ll get much of the same benefits as walking when standing. If you’re bed-ridden and cannot move your feet and legs, flex your feet and bend your knees as though walking. For adults needing assistive devices such as canes or walkers, take your device with you and give yourself time. We’re talking about walking, not racing.

Make walking fun! If you’re able to walk outside, try taking different routes to enjoy the scenery. Walk with a friend or form a walking club. Keep track of how far you’ve walked. As the miles add up you’ll be encouraged to keep going. Pick a favorite destination and keep track of the number of miles it takes to get there. I keep a map for this and each week mark how far I’ve walked toward my destination.

Walking is a great way to start to fulfill that promise that you would do more physical activity this year and what better time to start than springtime.

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