If you’re thinking of starting a walking program, you can lose weight, feel great and improve your health and it’s easier than you might think. Even small amounts of walking can have major effects on your health, so all you need to do is get moving! Fitness walking is such an amazing workout because it requires minimal equipment and you don’t need experience or professional training to get great results. You can start today by simply doing a few laps around the couch while watching T.V., and before you know it you’ll be on your way to improving your overall health and whittling that waistline.
We’ll be covering some quick ways to start a walking workout program, some unexpected benefits of walking, and why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for our health.
How to Get Off the Couch and Get Walking
Starting a daily walking program does not require a lot of equipment, planning, or even exertion. As long as you commit to stand up and get a few steps in every day, you will be able to start reaping those health benefits of walking. If you are not used to physical exercise and not sure where to even begin, the following suggestions are perfect tips to start incorporating into your daily routine. You will not only start feeling more energized, but these small steps will help get you on your way to creating your perfect walking fitness plan.
- After Dinner Walk: An after dinner walk is the perfect opportunity to put on your shoes and get active. Evening walks are a great way to wind down after a long day and clear your head, and research has even found that a 15-minute walk post-meal can help improve your blood sugar levels and your digestion. If you can’t get out and walk, a calming yoga session can help you relax and get ready for sleep.
- Early Morning Exercise: Getting active first thing in the morning will energize you for the day ahead, while ensuring that distractions don’t prevent your walk. Walk 15 minutes in the morning and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your step goal. There will also be few people out and about if you’re able to get outside, or get active at home with a strength workout or in-home cardio.
- Work It Out, While You Watch: If you can’t get out and hit those walking trails just yet, but still want to begin your fitness journey, then all you need is a T.V. and some free space. Steps are steps, and getting active in your own home is real cardio. Whether you do laps around your living room during commercial breaks or you practice walking in place during a 30-minute show, each of these activities will get your heart pumping and your muscles working.
- Make Weekends Active: The weekdays may be a hard time to start a fitness routine. The lack of time and added responsibilities of work and your personal life can make it challenging to get into the swing of things. That’s why when you are first starting your exercise journey, make the weekends your day to get active. It doesn’t have to be boring or tedious, either. Look for new ways to get active based on your current situation and make sure to have fun with it too.
The Surprising Benefits of Getting Active
Most people know that working out and staying active can help them get fit, improve their cardiovascular health, and even their overall mood. However, what many don’t realize is that there are quite a few other surprising benefits that staying active can provide you with.
- Snack Less: It comes as no surprise that those that enjoy a lot of couch/T.V. time tend to snack more than those that decide to do an activity that keeps them active. Even if you cut your couch time down by 30 minutes and decide to go for a walk instead, not only will you tend to eat less junk food, but you may start choosing more healthy food choices as well.
- Get More Done: If organizing or cleaning the house makes your cringe and you end up putting it off to get a few hours of phone time instead, then combining some physical activity and your chores into one event can help you complete two goals in one. Make cleaning more tolerable by switching it up and adding some physical activity into your routine. Turn on the music and dance while you organize, add some bodyweight exercises to break up that mundane dusting activity, or take a break when you feel you cannot clean anymore and head outside for a quick stroll around your block. These quick exercises will not only help you release some stress, but boost those energy levels as well.
- Improve your Skin: Many people don’t associate exercise with better skin, but moderate exercise such as walking has shown that it can accomplish this goal. Regular walking can help increase your body’s production of antioxidants, which in turn helps protect your cells and delay the appearance of skin aging.
- Improve Memory: Exercise benefits vary in scale and scope and even extend to your brain and your memory. Research has shown that exercise such as walking is great at helping the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s responsible for memory and learning, to increase in size. This is excellent news for those older adults that worry about losing mental function as they age.
The Dangers of a Sedentary Lifestyle
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 60 to 85% of the world’s population does not engage in enough physical activity. Don’t settle for taking only the average number of steps. Even though this lifestyle may not seem a big deal to many, it’s results have made physical inactivity the fourth leading cause of global mortality. Living a lifestyle where you decide to forgo physical activity does not just pose a risk to your waistline, but it can actually contribute to many health conditions, including the following:
- Lack of physical activity may increase depression and anxiety.
- Lack of physical activity can increase your risk of certain cancers.
- Lack of physical activity can cause you to lose quite a bit of skeletal muscle mass.
- Lack of physical activity can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Lack of physical activity can increase your chance of developing coronary heart disease.
- Lack of physical activity can lead to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
The hardest part of any fitness regimen is just getting started. Often our expectations make working out a lot harder than it should be. We come up with these elaborate plans of what classes we need to enroll in or how many miles we need to fit in daily that we quit before we even get started.
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Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle. (2017) LifeSpan.
Really? The Claim: Taking a Walk After a Meal Aids Digestion. (2013). By Anahad O’Connor. The New York Times.