If you have made a decision to start walking in order to improve your health, fitness and general well-being then you have made an excellent decision. Walking has so many health benefits that you simply cannot go wrong with this type of exercise. But now you have taken that first step toward achieving your health and fitness goals you are probably wondering where to start, how you will maintain this new activity that you are about to introduce into your daily life. Well you will be happy to know that it isn’t complicated at all. In fact, it is quite simple and below is a short guide to walking for beginners that will point you in the right direction and provide you with some tips on how to get started, what to consider and how to ensure that you remain focused on your objective.
It is highly recommended when starting any exercise program to consult your doctor first to give you the piece of mind that you are fully ready to embark upon your new activity. Actually, research shows that many doctors these days are really promoting walking as an extremely beneficial way to improve health so there is a very strong possibility that you will get the thumbs up from your local Doc.
Next, you should start to think about where you will walk, what route you will take. Will you plan to walk to work or somewhere around your immediate neighbourhood, or will you be more adventurous and find local hiking trails in the forest.
The other thing to consider when starting out is what equipment you will need. The items listed below are highly recommended:
- Comfortable footwear
- Loose fitting clothing
- Water bottle (to stay hydrated)
- Snack (for energy)
- Waterproof clothing (you never know)
- Mobile phone (in case of emergencies)
Of course the list is endless, you can take whatever you like but consider you will have to carry it.
Another important factor to consider are goals. Goals will keep you motivated and ensure that you don’t enter procrastination mode. But you should start off slowly. There is no point in walking for 2 hours on your first outing, if you are not used to this level of exercise you could sustain an injury as you body simply won’t be used to it. Furthermore, any discomfort resulting from over exertion could cause you to become demotivated and honestly that is the last thing you need after you put so much effort into getting your mindset ready for the challenge.
It is recommended that you start a walking program so that you can quickly get into a routine. If you establish, for example, a 6-week program with a goal to be walking for 1 hour continuously the end of the 6 weeks then this kind of program should be completely feasible and certainly something to aim for. An example of a simple 6-week walking program is detailed below:
|Week||Warm up||Brisk walking||Warm down|
As with any exercise it is important to warm up beforehand and warm down at the end. The warm up will ensure that your muscles are sufficiently warm which in turn will ensure you avoid injury. Equally, during the warm down you should carry out some stretching exercises in order to rid your muscles of lactic acid and therefore avoid having stiff muscles. For the main part of your walk you should try to pick up the pace a little to more of a brisk walk, the ideal pace would be where you are slightly out of breath but still have the ability to hold a conversation, any more than that and you are probably exerting yourself. It is important to get your heart beating a little faster to ensure that you body starts to reap the benefits of the exercise.
A great way to keep you motivated is to bring a friend along. Not only will it help to relieve the boredom of just walking alone but it will ensure that you encourage each other along the way. It is also a good way to gauge the effort that you are putting into the walk as undoubtedly you will be in conversation most of the time so you can see whether you are at a good level.
If all else fails and you can’t find any friend to accompany you then you can always take an mp3 player (or phone) and listen to music or an audio book to entertain you during your workout. However, please be aware of the dangers associated with not being aware of your surroundings, particularly if you chose to walk on main roads where there is a lot of traffic.
Once you’ve achieved your goal of walking continuously for an entire hour you should give yourself a huge pat on the back as this is a cause for celebration. You will have come a long way in a 6-week period and you should be proud.
However, this will not be the end, it will be just the beginning. You may want to increase your walking duration by applying the same principal of an additional 10 minutes per week or you may want to consider entering training for a competitive race such as 5km or even 10km. You could perhaps consider entering a charity event where you can raise money for a worthy cause.
Maybe you could investigate whether there is a local walking club or ramblers association that you can join. This will give you the opportunity to join like-minded people on a regular basis and give you the chance to share stories, discuss walking related topics and really share the experience with a group.
Whatever you decide you will be in a completely different place both physically and mentally and then the world really is your oyster.