With a few easy changes, it’s easier than you think.
From helping you clear your mind after a long day to maintaining a healthy weight, walking has so many health benefits.
“Regular physical activity and movement, like brisk walks, can help both your physical and mental health,” says Mallory Hammer, health and wellness associate at Geisinger.
Walking is a great way for you to enjoy the outdoors. And if you walk on a treadmill, you can even enjoy a TV show or audio book — all while getting your steps in.
Health benefits of walking
Walking isn’t all about shedding pounds. Taking a few longer walks a week (around an hour long) can help lower your risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, too.
It just takes 30 minutes each day to reap the benefits of a daily walk. But if you’re looking to get even more out of it, you can pick up the pace or increase the length of your walk.
“If you want to kick up the intensity and walk at a brisk pace, you may notice you start breathing a little heavier than usual,” says Ms. Hammer. “This is great for your heart health, but you want to make sure that you can still speak in full sentences while walking.”
Walking with a friend, family member or even your dog is a great way to make sure you’re able to talk while walking at a brisk pace. And if you notice you’re having a hard time talking, dial back the speed and length of your walks and slowly build them back up over time.
Tips to get your steps in
Whether you’re just looking to improve your overall health, or you’re aiming for 10,000 steps each day, getting there can be easy.
Make your goals small and easily attainable, and then when you’re comfortable, increase the number. Instead of shooting for 10,000 steps right away, try walking for just 15 minutes a day first.
Take the stairs
Shopping for the day or running errands? Take the stairs when you can. You’ll increase your heart rate and work the large muscles in your legs, which will help your whole body burn more calories.
Take walking meetings
If you sit at a desk for most of your workday or are in conference calls back-to-back, head outside and take a walking meeting to get your steps in and enjoy some fresh air.
Park farther away
Choose a parking spot near the outer edge of the grocery store or mall lot and walk the extra steps to get there.
Bonus: If you’re carrying groceries, you’ll get some light lifting in, too.
Set hourly reminders
Studies show it’s best to take short breaks while working to stay focused and even retain information. So, what better way to fill that break than with a short walk?
“By setting reminders you might find yourself being more productive throughout the day because you got your body moving while giving your mind a rest,” says Ms. Hammer.
Don’t do it alone
Walking with a buddy can make things more fun and keep you motivated. You can also get the whole family involved. Walking the dog together or going on a hike are great ways to get everyone moving more.
Invest in a fitness tracker
Wearing a fitness tracker helps you track your steps and add more into your day. You can use them to set daily step goals and hourly movement reminders.
Follow the mile rule
How many steps are in a mile? Over 2,000 — so whether it’s work, school or a trip to your dentist, if it’s nearby, put on some comfortable shoes and give yourself extra time to walk.
However you choose to walk, it’s a great way to get your body moving and take steps toward better overall health. And remember, always talk with your doctor before you start any exercise program.