As the weather begins to warm up and the days become longer, many of us want to spend time outside rather than being cooped up inside. It is very tempting to sit outside on your deck or patio and enjoy the fresh air but it would be FANTASTIC if you took a walk first. Walking is a great way to start being more physically active. It is free, can be done just about anywhere, and doesn't require special equipment, just comfortable clothes and good shoes.
- Think baby steps. If you have not been active for a while don't hesitate and don't think you have to walk miles and miles. Start slowly, but be consistent. Walk every day even if it is only a block or two at first.
- Start walking 10 minutes at a time. Think 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back. See how far you walked in those five minutes and remember where you were when you turned around to head back. As little as ten minutes of physical activity does provide health benefits such as: feeling better about yourself, less chance of being depressed, better sleep quality, stronger muscles and bones, and moving easier.
- Posture perks: As you are walking think about your posture. Keep your head up, tummy in, and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally. Select your own comfortable, natural step length.
- Remember to breathe! You should be able to talk while you are walking if you can't, you may want to slow down.
- Speed and distance: At first, don't even think about your speed or your distance. Just doing it is the important thing. As you get used to the 10 minute walk, you will begin to notice you can walk further in 10 minutes. Once you are comfortable walking 10 minutes, start slowly increasing the time you walk until you can comfortably walk 30 minutes every day. Three 10 minute walks are the same as one 30 minute walk. Do what fits best in your schedule.
- Walking and safety: As you walk, be safe. Watch for traffic; it is best to walk on sidewalks if at all possible. Know the area you are walking and consider walking with a friend. If you experience joint pain after walking, especially if it lasts longer than a couple of hours, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor to see what is causing the pain. It might be something simple like needing better shoes or it could be you should change to a different form of exercise.
- Reward yourself. Finally, reward yourself after your walk. It might be the time to sit on your patio or deck and enjoy the fresh spring air.
Getting Active: It's Easier than you think! American Heart Association
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Family Fun on the Run is a monthly newsletter designed to help families add physical activity to their already hectic schedules.