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Walking - Getting Started On a Favorite Exercise PDF Print E-mail
Perceptions - Health & Fitness
Written by Mikelle Streicher   
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Americans take the fewest number of steps each day compared to other developed countries, but at last the health benefits of walking are being publicized -- getting more people excited about walking.




We can walk indoors, outdoors, alone or with friends. Walking is safe. Its injury rates are very low. So if you've decided to join the thousands of other Americans who've incorporated walking into their daily routine, here are some sound, smart, fun ways to get started.


Warm up. Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm up your muscles. Walk in place, then increase your pace.


Stretch. After your warm-up, stretch your muscles before walking. Include the calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch and side stretch.


Cool down after each walk. To reduce stress on your heart and other muscles, end each walk by walking slowly for a few minutes. Then repeat your stretches.


Focus on the basics. If you're an experienced walker, simply keep it up. But if you've been a skilled couch potato, start slow and easy. Begin by walking only as far or as fast as comfortable for you. If that's just a few minutes, no problem. This is your starting point. You can try short daily sessions of five minutes or so and slowly build up to 15 minutes two or three times a week. Then, over time gradually work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of walking on most days of the week. Aim for at least five days.


Measure your workout's intensity. As you walk, check your heart rate. This will allow you to build intensity to maximize your workout - or slow down to avoid overdoing it. Electronic devices that display your heart rate are easily accessible.


Save the outrageous cost of gas and walk to the grocery store or to other errands.


Grab a friend or neighbor and take a walking tour of your own city. Most cities host them free-of-charge. If your town doesn't, design your own tour.


One final note: Remember that walking is called the perfect exercise precisely because it's what we humans were designed to do!


Okay, now get walking!!


Author: Mikelle Streicher


Mikelle Streicher, PhD, RN, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Florida Health Care Plans (FHCP), a leader in providing health care services, health insurance and education in the area of Workplace Wellness with its WorkForce Wellness program. Florida Health Care Plans is the second-oldest HMO in the United States and is able to provide full-service health insurance solutions to individuals and employer groups in Volusia and Flagler counties in east central Florida.


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