In my last post, I discussed tips for new runners. But not everyone will want to run, some people would prefer to walk their way to a healthier version of themselves.
Walking is a great form of exercise for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you don’t need any equipment, although we’ll talk about one device you should use. Secondly, you can do it just about anywhere. These two reasons make it a great type of exercise to do when traveling – you don’t have to carry around a bunch of equipment.
If the weather is nice, walking outside is best for you. Getting your vitamin D from the sun, breathing in fresh air, and listening to the birds singing are all great reasons for walking outside. If the weather is bad, take your walk inside to either a gym or perhaps a shopping centre – just remember to get a good walk round before you start to weigh yourself down with heavy bags.
A question often asked is “How many steps do I need to walk every day to stay healthy and lose weight?” In America, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. That’s 2 and a half hours in total, or maybe 30 minutes every weekday.
Most of us do not walk nearly enough due to our modern, sedentary lifestyle. According to the UK’s National Health Service, most Brits walk on average between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day; it is even worse in the U.S. at about 2,300 to 3,000 steps per day. I’m sure if you went back say 50 years you’d find that the average was an awful lot more (I have tried to find the number but I’m not sure they recorded them so much as these days).
Walking an hour at 5 mph (5 miles or 9 kilometres) equates to approximately 10,000 steps. Do this for five days and you’ll burn off enough calories to have lost a pound during that week – provided you ate healthy and watched your calorie intake. However, you can’t out exercise a bad calorie-laden diet, so eating sensibly is the first step to getting healthier. Increase the intensity by walking faster, swinging your arms, etc. and you’ll burn even more calories.
Unless you measure out a 5-mile route and time your walk, how do you know you are walking at least 10,000 steps? This is where a step-measuring device can help you. They range from a simple pedometer that only measures the number of steps taken to the new fitness trackers that not only measures steps, but the number of calories burned, calories eaten and a whole host of other data.
One common excuse many people use in today’s world is they don’t have the time. But really, these are just excuses. If you are creative you can easily incorporate 30 minutes walking into each day. If you drive to work, park at the far end of the car park, or park a few streets away and walk in to work. If you take public transport, get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. Once in your building, take the stairs instead of the lift.
During your lunch break, why not put on your walking shoes and take a walk, leaving just enough time to eat a healthy lunch. If you are wearing a pedometer or fitness tracker, you’ll see how these tactics add to your daily step count. Finish off your 10,000 steps with a walk after your evening meal.
There are so many healthy reasons to walk besides losing weight that you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not getting in your daily number of steps. If you can do 2 and a half hours more walking each week than you currently do, then you will be well on your way to reaping the benefits of a healthier you.