It seems we are always harping about walking, how its good for your health, lowering stress levels, getting your blood pressure under control and the list just keeps on growing with more clinical studies being conducted both in the U.S. and abroad. So why are there still so many of us being sedentary every day?
A simple form of exercise, walking can lower blood pressure, help you sleep, spur weight loss, and generally improve health. But it's easy to find reasons not to go when the time comes to lace up your sneakers. “Regular exercise can absolutely reduce the chances of getting heart disease by up to 50 percent,” said Liu, who works with Austin Heart of Marble Falls and Heart Hospital of Austin.
Here's how to conquer the most common excuses for not walking. And these are just the most popular ones, I’m sure you have a few unique ones of your own that can make the list.
I don’t have time.
It’s too difficult.
I’m too busy with kids and work (see #1)
I don’t have a good area to walk in.
I’m embarrassed to be seen walking the way I look.
The reality: Regular exercise is not as overwhelming as you think. We’re talking about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise four to five times a week, or 150 minutes for the week. If you put it perspective base on how much time people spend watching TV. Research shows that the average American spends over 5 hours per day in front of the TV watching “Live” television shows and another 30 minutes watching recorded programs. Along with another 10 hours using the internet. Pretty amazing on how much “Down Time” is being spent in a sedentary position. Right ???
Getting outside and walking is the most basic form of exercise — one most of us do every day. It’s an effective way of reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. “If you walk briskly, that’s moderate intensity,” Liu said.
He pointed out that walking just one to two miles three to four times a week could help lower the risk of dying from heart disease by half in an older population. “We’re not talking about vigorous exercise,” Liu said. “It’s very doable for the average person to get in the moderate exercise we’re recommending.”
One thing you need to do in order to keep track of your walking is to use either a Good, Accurate Pedometer like the Yamax EX-510 Power-Walker Multi-Function Pedometer, you can’t go wrong with its precision and it keeps your data for up to 30 days! Or get yourself an Activity Watch like the Fitbit Alta. It not only does all of the above but also is a heart monitor as well. Whichever you get, make sure the data it compiles can be transferred to a device that can measure your progress each and every day. The key is to set manageable goals for yourself. People are naturally competitive. And we need to use that inherent streak to our advantage to keep pushing our goals out there after we have accomplished them.
It’s fairly simple to incorporate this moderate level of exercise into your daily life, he said. One way is with a “walk and talk” with friends or work colleagues. It’s like a meeting, but instead of sitting around the table, everyone goes for a walk.
You can take your dog or your child for a brisk walk. When you go to work, park a little farther away, so you have to get more walking in. Even if you like watching TV, incorporate that with riding a (stationary) bike. See, you’re not walking but your legs are moving along with several other muscle groups in your body. Just keep a good tempo going and work it. Try moving a bit faster as the drama on the screen heats up a bit, just to keep your activity levels moving right along.
“There are a number of ways to incorporate moderate physical activity into your day,” he added. Those wanting to include cardio exercise in their daily workouts don’t need to commit to hours each week to reduce their risks of heart disease. For those who can do more vigorous exercise, it only takes about 20 minutes three to four days a week, or 75 minutes a week.
That’s really not a lot of time considering how much each day a person can spend in front of either a TV or computer screen, is it? So what are you waiting for, turn off that set and lace up those walking shoes and have at it. Your body’s going to thank you for it… Down the road!