How do you spend your day? Do you go to work and sit in front of a computer? Do you come home and watch TV? Do you spend your weekends binge-watching a show on Netflix? Are you trying to fit in some type of exercise during the day, but have no motivation?
Well, you’re not alone. We are all becoming less active and are increasing our risk of heart disease, stroke, and many other diseases. We need to do something about this!
Luckily, National Walking Day is on Wednesday, April 6th and kicks off a month long initiative to become more active. The American Heart Association (AHA) started the initiative in 2007 to promote physical activity. Physical activity is still one of the best ways to decrease your risk of heart disease.
American Heart Association Recommendations
The AHA recommends adults get 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. What does that mean for each day? Aim for 30 minutes a day, five times a week.
Do you find 30-minutes a day hard to fit into your daily routine? Split up your time into segments of 10-15 minutes, two-three times a day. You will still experience benefits and it may work better for you!
Walking does not require any special skills or equipment. Best of all, it will cost you nothing to start! All your need are sneakers and some comfortable clothes.
Research has shown that 30 minutes of walking a day can help:
- Reduce your risk of coronary heart disease
- Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar level and blood lipid profile
- Maintain your body weight and lower the risk of obesity
- Enhance your mental well-being
- Reduce your risk of osteoporosis and Type 2 Diabetes
The AHA also says a regular walking program can boost “couch potato” bone strength!
Taking the First Step
I know incorporating exercise into your routine can be scary. We never know how to start and that stops us from exercising. Use these tips to make it easier to start walking!
- Assess your self realistically. What can your body handle?
- Begin with short distances: start with a stroll and gradually increase your time and distance each week.
- Posture is very important… keep your head lifted, tummy pulled in and shoulders relaxed.
- Breath deeply. Breathing is very important in any physical activity, so pay attention to how you are breathing.
- There is no need to speed walk. Start at a pace that works for you and then work your way up.
Maybe you don’t want to just “go for a walk”. Incorporate your 30 minutes of walking into your current routine.
- Do you have a dog? If so, take him/her out for a long stroll.
- Going to the grocery store, mall, or work? Park in a farther spot.
- Always use the stairs!
- Do you have kids? Bring them to the park and play some games with them. Get them involved in National Walking Day and the month-long celebration to become more active.
- Need to call a family member or friend to catch up? Call them on your walk and you’ll be surprised how long you’ll be walking for.
- Bring a friend along. Walking will become more enjoyable if you have someone to do it with you.
- Make part of your lunch break a 15-minute walk.
- STRETCH! Stretching will help keep your muscles healthy and strong. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Set goals for you to meet by the end of this month. See what you are capable of!
Your Turn to Take Action: How will you incorporate a 30-minute walk into your daily routine? Let me know in the comments section below.