Get Walking...Wednesday, April 2 is National Walking Day!
Even if you’re a certified couch potato, getting active doesn’t have to be hard. It can also help you outwit heart disease, the No. 1 killer of all Americans.
Cycling, jogging, swimming, skiing, aerobic dancing and many other activities can help your heart. Simply just walking is an easy way to get started! Spring is here and the weather is nicer, so get off the couch and hit the pavement!
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly. That’s not as hard as it sounds. Start slowly; maybe two 15 minute walks a day. Gradually build up, with the goal of being active on most or all days of the week.
How to Step your Way to Success
If you’ve been sedentary for a while, are overweight, have a high risk of heart disease or another chronic health problem, talk to your doctor before you start a walking program.
To get started:
- Try to walk at the same time of day so it becomes part of your lifestyle. Find a convenient time and safe place. Try to make walking a habit, but be flexible. If you miss an opportunity for physical activity, don’t give up. Work activity into your day another way.
- Find a companion. You’re more likely to stick with it if you have a buddy.
- Wear comfortable, properly fitting sneakers or flat shoes with laces and comfortable,
- loose-fitting clothing. Wear a hat, put on sunscreen, and if you are going a distance, carry water.
- Look for every chance to be more active during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking lot, or use work breaks to go for a walk.
- Keep yourself accountable but cut yourself some slack if you stop for a while. Get started again gradually and work back up to your old pace.
- Already a walker and want to pick up the pace? Tack another mile onto your regular route route, try a more challenging path or add an extra day of the week.
- Track and celebrate successes. There are many great apps to help you do this. Record distance or length of time of your activity, and how you feel after each session.
- Reward yourself at special milestones. Nothing motivates like success!
Visit StartWalkingNow.org to find AHA personalized walking plans, an online community of walkers and more tools and information to assist you with starting and maintaining a walking program.
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