Exercise is critical to a complete wellness plan, but what is the best exercise?  Don’t let the cost and time involved in gym memberships prevent you from daily exercise.

Just walk! Walking is something that almost everyone can do, and it is free! Of course, make sure you have checked with your doctor to ensure you have no health barriers to this activity.

Here are some ideas to get your walking program started and how you can walk every day whether the sun is shining or there is two feet of snow in your yard.

Plan to walk every day starting with 15 minutes and working up to 30 minutes a day.  Continuous brisk walking for 30 minutes will allow you to cover at least 1.5 miles and burn up to 1000 to 3000 calories a week. This will improve your metabolism and speed up  weight loss.

Your 30 minute walk should begin with flexibility stretching. Start your walk with a comfortable pace for the first 5 or 10 minutes and increase your speed until you are at your target heart rate and walk for another 15 to 20 minutes.

You can purchase a heart rate monitor for approximately $20.00.  Cool down your body by slowing down the last five minutes of the walk.

Walking is a great way to keep your heart healthy and keep blood pressure in check. Walking also promotes the production of serotonin; the feel good hormone which keeps depression at bay.

Make sure you have plenty of alternative options for your daily walk. Outdoors is always a great choice. Walk around your neighborhood, in a nearby park, or on community walking trails. Early summer mornings would be a beautiful time to try beach walking if you live near a lake or the ocean.

Rainy or snowy days can be a challenge. You can purchase a walking DVD and pop it in and walk in place in front of your TV. There are many available, some with walking and others with dancing as your fitness levels get better.

The music provided helps your mood and momentum. Some communities have indoor shopping malls and open early for walkers, with signs marking distance courses for you.

Add some walking when you go shopping by parking a farther distance to the store, and making a few extra laps around the store before checking out.

If you have a dog, take him along when you walk outside. Dogs want and need exercise too!  Dog trainers promote a daily walk for the physical and mental well-being of dogs, so if you can’t get motivated for yourself, start walking for your dog! You will both look forward to getting out every day.

Sign up for a fitness walk. Many organized walks and runs are now being sponsored in most communities. You can start with a one mile walk then go to a 5K which is 3.1 miles.

The organizers often provide timing chips and publish results. This is another way to challenge yourself to get started and give you a goal to keep you motivated.

Keep a journal of your progress. Having it in writing gives you a record of what you are doing and is another way to stay motivated. You can look back and see how you have increased your distance, speed and fitness levels.

Are you ready? Start walking!


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