Chances are that you are reading this article because you have decided that you want to begin an exercise program to improve your health. You are convinced that walking can improve your health by tons of research that supports its effectiveness. Now you want to know how to begin and maintain an enjoyable walking program that will improve your health and not waste your time. Follow these instructions and use these simple tips to build a personalized walking program that you will love.
You will need:
Pen and Paper
Consult your doctor if you are over 35 or have any medical problems that may interfere with walking. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, you should alert your doctor if you have pain or muscle weakness in your legs, difficulty breathing, chest pain, high blood pressure, family history of stroke or heart attack or problems with balance. If you are under 35 and healthy, you do not need medical clearance.
Purchase a pedometer from your local sports store. A pedometer counts the number of steps that you are taking. You should also purchase a stopwatch or a watch with a timer.
Invest in a good pair of walking shoes. These should be athletic shoes without heels and they should have laces. Most athletic shoes today are engineered for walking. Before purchasing, try different pairs of shoes and walk around the store to get a feel for how comfortable they are. If you have a problem with the arches of your foot, make an appointment to see a podiatrist for proper fitting.
Decide where you want to walk. This can be in your neighborhood, at a park, on a track, or on a treadmill.
Start your stopwatch and reset your pedometer. Begin walking at a comfortable pace. Once you reach 10 minutes on your stopwatch, stop walking. Write down the number of pedometer steps you have achieved. Turnaround and return to your starting point in the remaining 10 minutes of your 20 minute workout. If you are on a treadmill, take note of the distance that you have walked and double it in the remaining 10 minutes. This forces you to continue challenging your pace throughout your workout.
Write down the total number of steps recorded on your pedometer.
Set a goal to increase your pace and beat the number of steps that you recorded in the first 10 minutes of your previous workout. Your total number of steps should also increase.
Apply an ice pack to any sore areas. If necessary, use over-the-counter pain relievers as directed.
Enjoy a day of rest. However, try to increase your baseline level of physical activity by taking the stairs, parking at the back of lots or enjoying a leisurely physical activity.
The Department of Health and Human Services: The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
The Mayo Clinic: Walking for fitness: How to trim your waistline, improve your health
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Jacques graduated from Tulane Medical School and has seven years of experience as a personal trainer. After completing medical school, Dr. Courseault was the Associate Chief Resident specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Louisiana State University.
After residency, he completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship at Baton Rouge General Hospital while taking care of NCAA athletes as well as local high school athletes. He now is practicing physical medicine and rehabilitation, sports medicine and electromyography at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, Louisiana.