Fit to Walk? Walk to Fitness

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Walking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep fit and healthy. If you are one of those who have no time or money to go to the gym for a workout, you can take up a walking program or regimen instead. It will not cost you a thing and you can do it as you wish or as often as you want-anywhere and anytime.

Health experts recommend a minimum of 30-minute of moderate physical activity a couple of times a week to stay fit, and brisk walking fits this category. You can brisk walk just about anywhere-in the park, your neighborhood, office block or even while doing your grocery shopping.

Walking, whether leisurely or vigorously, leads to a fit body and mind. The health benefits are proven by researches. It reduces the risks of various medical disorders or diseases such as heart-related ailments (stroke, hypertension etc.), diabetes, certain types of cancer such as breast cancer, muscle pains or bone fractures, arthritis among many more. Walking also reduces anxiety, stress and depression. It promotes better sleep.

As a regular exercise, walking is also effective in managing your weight and shedding those extra pounds. Walking burns calories consistently. In fact, according to fitness experts, low-impact exercises such as walking provide a higher level of fitness and health than strenuous exercise such as jogging. Walking is also easier to maintain than a fitness program in the gym because you can do it anytime and anywhere since it does not require any equipment or gadgets.

Following a walking program or schedule is advisable. You can design one that suits your lifestyle and fitness level. You should walk at your own pace, do not overexert yourself. Most people start with 15 to 30 minutes of walking a few times a week. Then they just increase the frequency and intensity as they go along.

There are ways to measure the intensity of your walking exercise, this will help you assess whether you need to slow down or quicken the pace of your workout. A simple way is through the so-called 'talk test'. If you can still carry a conversation while walking, then your pace is normal. But if you are already catching your breath and cannot talk anymore, then you better slow down. Another way is by monitoring your pulse or heart rate. You can do this manually by feeling the pulse in your wrist or neck or mechanically through an electronic device.

You should be realistic with your performance goals, so you can stick to your walking program. If you have done it for three to six months, it will become a habit and will fit rightly in your lifestyle. The important thing is to keep on walking.

But if you fail to stick to your walking program, find ways to make it more enjoyable. Walking need not be one dull routine. You can make it fun. Invite your friend or spouse to join you, or you can even take along your pet dog. If you really don't feel like walking outdoors or if the weather prevents you from doing it outside, use a treadmill or stairs. Think of ways of including even short walks into your day to keep you on track, 15 to 20 minutes walk during your lunch break or walking to and from your appointments.

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