Taking the Necessary Steps to Lose Weight. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to begin exercising is by starting a walking program. Walking is a terrific way to increase the affects of your diet and can be the first step in becoming more fit overall. Walking requires very little financial investment and can be incorporated into almost any lifestyle. Fitness experts say that even a moderate level of exercise (30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week) gleaned from walking can help you to lose weight and even add over a year to your life.
Baby Steps to Start
Walking is a cardiovascular exercise that will help strengthen your heart and will also boost your metabolism. The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories your body will burn. Adding even a minimal walking routine to your diet program will result in quicker weight loss than what you will get from dieting alone. As with any new exercise program, it is best to start your walking program at a moderate rate, until your body acclimates to the added exertion. Most beginners can handle walking for 20 to 30 minutes on 3 or 4 days of the week. As you begin to build strength and stamina, you can increase your sessions gradually until you are walking up to 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week. As you progress, you will also find it easier to walk faster, which will increase the cardiovascular benefits of walking.
Tips for Successful Walking Programs
Before beginning a walking program, it is best to get the okay from your doctor. While walking can be a fairly low level form of exercise, it is important that you do not overdo it and strain your body. The following tips can help you get started walking safely and successfully:
Wear Supportive Shoes. Wearing shoes specifically designed for walking or running will help you to avoid foot, leg and back pain. Walking shoes will cushion your steps and act as shock absorbers for your body.
Bring Water. As with any exercise, keeping hydrated is very important. As you expend energy, your body will begin to sweat. Water can replace the hydration you lose while exercising.
Keep a Consistent Pace. Walking for exercise is not the same as the walking you do to get from point A to point B. To get the cardiovascular benefits of walking, you need to maintain a consistent pace and keep walking for the entire time.
Use Your Arms. Swinging your arms while walking will add to your momentum and increase the cardiovascular workout you receive from walking. Walking can help to tone your arms, as well as your legs.
Add Weights. As you become more comfortable with walking, you might consider adding wrist or ankle weights to use while walking. The increased resistance will help you to build muscle and up the cardio workout quotient of your walking.
Use a Pedometer. Investing in a pedometer can help you to gauge your progress and also make it easy for you to measure how many calories you are burning. From a psychological standpoint, it is encouraging to have a concrete number to work towards in miles.
Walk as a Family. Walking is one of the few forms of exercise that can be enjoyed simultaneously by your whole family. Walking as a group can also help to keep it fun and will encourage healthy habits in children.