Walk Your Way to Health

No matter what your age, regular exercise is as important for your health as having a hearty morning breakfast. However, when you enter the golden years of life, daily physical activity can provide far-reaching benefits. Not only can exercise keep your body fit and agile, but it can also reduce the risk of geriatric diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Along with increased life expectancy, exercise can generate a positive, contented outlook and a strong sense of independence.

Several types of exercise routines can be performed, depending on your current health and energy levels, but the most suitable exercise for all fitness levels is walking. Walking is a simple, inexpensive and effective way of keeping your body physically strong and energetic. Walking does not impart excessive stress on weight-bearing joints and is painless when done at comfortable speeds. Depending on your physical condition, you can choose to walk at a leisurely pace, or walk more briskly as your body strength improves. In fact, you can even try walking in water, which has the added advantage of reduced body weight and thereby lower stress on joints.

The best time to start walking is today. It is essential to wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing in order to allow unrestricted movements of the body. Your shoes should be durable, shock absorbent and well fitted, and provide cushioned support for the heels and arch of the foot. Try to walk for a minimum of thirty minutes a day, but if that is not feasible initially, start with ten minutes of physical activity. At the end of the ten minutes, you can choose to continue walking if you are not feeling tired, breathless or overwhelmed. The location is not relevant, be it a lush green park, a supermarket, or your own corridor, as long as you are comfortable. Always remember to warm up for a minimum of five minutes before you start any exercise, and then cool down after the workout, using simple body stretches for the neck, shoulders, arms, thighs, calves, back, chest and stomach. Stretching can help prevent injuries to the muscles and joints, and is therefore as important as the workout itself.

Refrain from beginning any exercise regime if you are not feeling well, or are experiencing pain, dizziness, nausea or shortness of breath. It is best to obtain advice from a physician before embarking upon any fitness regime.

The benefits of walking will be evident after a short period of continual efforts, consistency being the key to achieving any health objectives. Performing activities in a group can add zeal and fun to your health program, and keep you motivated and committed. Physical activity will add more energy to your life, by increasing your metabolism and helping you sleep better. It will help you manage your weight, by reducing body fat and toning and strengthening your muscles. Not only does exercise offer physical benefits, but also helps you reduce mental stress and improve memory. By incorporating physical movements in your daily life through minute changes in your habits, such as using the staircase instead of an elevator, or walking to the grocery store instead of taking a bus, you can reap unimaginable rewards in the physical, mental and psychological aspects of your life. Go on, walk your way to a healthier, fitter, happier you!

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