The most important piece of equipment you will need is a good pair of walking or running shoe. Most shoe stores and sporting goods stores should be able to supply you with a good selection. You can also check out some of the online stores, you will find some good sources at DrLeonards.com or FootSmart.com. You may also want to think about getting yourself a pedometer. Pedometers are handy little gadgets that can measure your distance and time and help you keep track of your progress.
Now that you have your equipment and are ready to go, it might be nice to know why you are starting a walking program. The health benefits of walking are many and include the following:
- Helps with weight loss.
- Helps to reduce blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Relieves stress
- Boosts overall energy levels
- Strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease
- Studies have shown that walking relieves depression and anxiety
- Strengthens your body
- Burns almost the same amount of calories as running
Since walking uses almost all 650 of your muscles it is a very good idea to warm up before you begin a walk. This will loosen up your body and help to avoid injury.
You should build up to walking for about one hour. Your current fitness level will determine the length and time of your first walk. Some people will only be able to walk around the block, others will able to walk the full hour. Do what you feel comfortable with and build from that point. Keep a log to measure your progress. As you become fitter, increase the pace and distance.
Personally, I like to measure my walks in distance. A pedometer will be of great assistance. Measuring your walk in distance helps to compensate for days when you might walk a little slower or faster. After your first few walks try to achieve a brisk pace where you may be puffing a little but you can still talk. Remember, there is not much difference in the amount of energy (calories) expended by walking or running a specified distance.
After you have finished your walk don’t forget to cool down. Try to spend about 5 minutes walking slowly. This will allow your heart, lungs and blood flow to return to normal gradually. This decreases strain on your heart and can help to prevent muscle strain and soreness.
JUST DO IT!!!