If you’ve given up on the idea of embarking on a fitness program because you’ve been sold the old idea of no pain, no gain, we’d like to take you for a walk — and change your mind in the process.
That no pain line was probably invented by some guy who had a set of free weights to sell. The good news is, walking can be a great form of cardio exercise, and a regular walking habit might be the fitness program you’ve been hoping for.
Walking Into The Future
For years we’ve known, or at least suspected, that walking was good for us. The joints need it. It helps us maintain balance as we age. The activity helps with bone density. We could continue with the list, but the fact is that the body needs to move. And while no pain, no gain might be a faulty quip, there is a lot of truth in another line we’re familiar with — move it, or lose it.
Walking is what the medical and fitness communities refer to as a weight-bearing exercise. As such, it comes with benefits like:
- better heart and lung fitness
- better management of the dreaded “highs” — high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- better balance
- more muscle strength
Time Is On Your Side
As long as we’re dispensing with reasons we can’t get into fitness and exercise, let’s do away with this one: staying fit just takes too much time.
Walking just 30 minutes a day will deliver all the health benefits described above. The caveat here (you knew there had to be one) is that it needs to be a brisk 30-minute walk. Health pros define brisk as a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation with your walking buddy, but probably prompts some huffing and puffing by the time you finish.
The medical pros confirm that brisk walking will deliver health benefits while posing little risk. Of course, if you have any health conditions you should ask your personal physician whether a frequent 30-minute brisk walk is advisable.
Incorporate Tools of the Trade
Before you launch into a fitness routine — even a daily walk — it is advisable to be certain you’re appropriately equipped.
Number one on this list is to take care of your feet. Don’t walk in broken-down shoes that provide little to no support. The right shoes will make for enjoyable walks.
One other item to consider is a pedometer or smart watch. In addition to tracking steps and distance, many of these are able to track heart rate. Keeping track of your heart rate, from the beginning to the end of your walk, will provide you with valuable benchmarks for heart health and progress.
And finally, one of the most valuable things you can incorporate into your exercise and fitness efforts is some companionship. A walking buddy, or even two or three others, turns your fitness and exercise time into a fulfilling social encounter. The shared experience will almost certainly stimulate new conversations.
A Real-Life Approach to Fitness
You may not think walking constitutes one of the new and exotic fitness programs. But you might be surprised who you’ll encounter and what you’ll experience when you hit one of those walking paths with a neighbor or friend. In many respects, walking is the most organic form of fitness we might imagine, whether we’re strolling down the boulevard, or taking a walk in the park.
Video on Walking for Health