Walking is the perfect exercise for good physical and mental health. Almost anyone can do it and at any skill level–from grandparents to children. It’s easy, convenient and inexpensive–all you need is a good pair of shoes.
Sore backs, hips, knees and leg muscles are often the result of these bursts of activity. More than six out of ten people who start an exercise program drop out within the first six weeks because of an injury.
The most important way to prevent injury is to start with a proper exercise program. When starting out, goal-setting is key. Set realistic goals based on your current health, family history and your willingness to make changes.
Health Canada tells us we should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity daily or taking 10,000 steps per day. Using a pedometer will help you achieve this goal.
Walking is one of the safest ways to condition your body aerobically. It can boost energy, help with weight loss and reduce stress. It will also help strengthen your heart and lungs, lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels and help strengthen bones.
How do we begin?
First, establish a personal baseline: walk as much as you can comfortably for a length of time that is easily tolerated. Then, try to increase that baseline distance by 10 percent each week. For example, if your baseline is one kilometre, then the next week, walk 1.1 km. Continue this gradual increase until you are walking 30 to 60 minutes per day.
Once this is achieved, increase the distance walked within this time frame in order to continue to improve your fitness.
Remember: the goal is to develop a habit of regular physical activity at a level that is right for you. Walking works for everyone. You can do it anywhere, anytime. So, start today and watch your fitness goals be achieved! See you on the road to health and wellness.
Nadine Chiasson-Peters, PT, is with the Physiotherapy Department Horizon Health Network.