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How to Start a Walking Program

How to Start a Walking Program

Walking is one of the easiest ways to get in the physical activity you need. It is low-risk, low-cost and can be done by almost any person at any fitness level.

There are many benefits to walking regularly. Walking can help you:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improve bone health
  • Increase energy
  • Lose or maintain weight

If you’re new to exercise, here are a few tips to start walking:

  • Get your doctor’s okay. This is especially important if you have a medical condition.
  • Dress appropriately. Make sure you have supportive shoes and comfortable clothes.
  • Start slowly. Begin by walking a short distance at a comfortable pace. Even if the only thing you can do is to walk to the mailbox and back, that’s a good place to start.
  • Keep moving. Gradually increase your time, speed and/or distance by 10-20% each week.
  • Warm up and stretch. Begin at an easy pace for the first few minutes before increasing the intensity of your walk. Stretch at the end of your walk.
  • Focus on your posture. Stand tall with your stomach pulled in, shoulders relaxed and head lifted. Swing your arms naturally. Don’t overstride or look down at the ground.
  • Take the talk test. If you can talk but can’t sing more than a few words without getting out of breath, you’re exercising at a moderate pace. If you can’t catch your breath or get out of breath after saying only a few words, you’re exercising at a high intensity.
  • Find time. Can’t find a large enough block of time to walk or can’t walk for too long at any one time? That’s okay. Break up your activity into 10-minute chunks during the day. These really add up!

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