Getting Started – Walking

Walking, like other exercise, can help you achieve a number of important health benefits:

  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Manage your weight
  • Improve your mood
  • Stay strong and fit

You can forget the “no pain, no gain” talk. Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging.

FIRST STEPS 

Warm up: Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm up your muscles. You can walk in place if you want. Increase your pace until you feel warm.

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

Start slow and easy:  If you’re a seasoned walker, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’ve been inactive and tire easily, it’s best to start slow and easy. At first, walk only as far or as fast as you find comfortable. If you can walk for only a few minutes, let that be your starting point. For example, you might try short daily sessions of five to 10 minutes and slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week. Then, over several weeks’ time, you can gradually work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of walking most days each week.

Cool down: After each walking session, cool down to reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then, repeat your stretches.

Where do you walk? Find a walking path near you: http://www.startwalkingnow.org/start_walking_paths.jsp

Source: Mayo Clinic

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