Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Walking…the Perfect Exercise!

Okay, I know it’s NOT the perfect exercise—swimming is probably the best exercise we can do, but not all of us have access to water for swimming.  And, even if there is water—be it pool, ocean or lake--nearby, the weather or climate is not always agreeable.  So, the next best thing is walking—it doesn’t use as many muscle groups as swimming, but at least it can be done almost anywhere, anytime…and the benefits are undeniable.

When I walk in the park (or in our neighborhood), I swing my arms well, feel the roll of the muscles in my thighs, breathe-in deeply through my nose…and I feel that all is well with the world. 

Unlike running, walking does not require that pre-/warm-up stretch.  I can just walk out my door or step out of my car and start walking.  I start slow for the first 10 minutes…allowing the blood to flow through my extremities, slowly warming the muscles.  After that first ten minutes, I slowly but steadily increase my speed until I get to the fastest sustainable walking speed I can for that day.  That word ‘sustainable’ is an important word because I need to get my two miles in, and if I walk TOO fast, I’ll end up burning out before my complete walk is done.

Now, I have set my daily goal at two miles per day because that distance allows me to get my heart-rate up and keep it elevated for a sufficient length of time (about 25 min.)  Everyone will need to set his or her own goal…and that goal should be more about time and sustained heart-rate than about distance.  An article from “SparkPeople” says that good and effective aerobic exercise meets three criteria: it needs to happen 3-5 days a week, should be of “moderate intensity,” and should last at least 20 minutes.  That is, one’s heart-rate should be should be at a sustained rate for those 20 minutes.  Of course, you can click on SparkPeople above to read more.

After a good walk, my body is warmed, my muscles infused with blood and I feel good.  NOW is the time for this walker to stretch.  After my walk, I complete a modified yoga routine that stretches most of my major muscle groups and leaves me flexible and feeling great.  My walk + my stretch take about 40 minutes…and benefit me throughout the day.  This 40-minute investment in my health brings and will bring big returns throughout my life as I grow older.

Some folks find time in the mornings, others make time in the afternoons or evenings.  It really doesn’t matter WHEN one does the exercise—what matters is DOING the exercise.  Make a decision today and go for a walk—you won’t regret it!

Read more here:

Article--Moderate Exercise

Web-site--The Walking Site