I (Sharon) really got serious about walking for exercise late last year. What happened?
At that time in my life I was watching Dr Oz and getting a lot out of it, and being a little depressed about my health all at the same time. I know, I know! I can hear some people thinking, ”Really, Dr Oz? He isn’t really primal is he!” Yes, it’s true that he is not the most Primal friendly doctor. But, to be honest, the guy has a HUGE audience and if something he says gets people thinking about their health, then good on him. Of course we need to weigh it all up, and find what is best for us. In this case the show was a catalyst to getting me healthier.
One of the first books I read when I first started to make changes for better health was “The RealAge Workout” by Michael F. Roisen MD and Tracy Hafen, M.S. A great program to simply get people out and walking. What was in the book clicked for me and for the first time in a long time I was out there walking and enjoying it.
Basically, it works on a model to get you from sitting, to getting up and walking. It starts with walking, one step at a time, for 30-90 days with a progression through to strength training. Anything to get you moving is a good thing I say.
Benefits of walking
I find that walking helps to relieve and reduce my stress levels. It’s a great mood booster and great for my self esteem. Even though I may be tired afterwards, somehow it helps me feel more energetic. Gotta love that!
Other advantages and benefits….let’s list a few…
- It’s a suitable physical activity for most people
- Regular walking can help you lose body fat
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Improves your fitness
- Improves your mood
- Reduces your risk of developing heart disease and stroke
- Reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis
- Reduces your risk of developing some cancers
- It’s low impact
- Requires minimal equipment
- Can be done at any time of day
- Can be performed at your own pace
- Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
- Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
- Improved management of high blood pressure
- Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
- Stronger bones
- Improved management of joint and muscular stiffness
- It’s a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly or those who haven’t exercised in a long time
Get Started and…. Just Do It!
You need to make a commitment to get up, get out, and walk. I struggled with that at the start, but soon made it a priority as this was also “me” time. I had time to listen to my podcasts, or music, or just think – uninterrupted! That’s a huge bonus for me as a busy Mum of four young children.
So I went ahead and started walking – everyday. Simple as that.
At first I used to walk around the school block and then around our HUGE block at home. Soon I ventured around the neighbourhood more. I even went walking with friends and did some primal essential moves at the playground afterwards.
Taking it one step at a time
You really don’t have to do a major power walk straight off. In fact, if you start that way, you may just end up burning out in a week or less. Take it easy. Measure your distance (I know, you’ve been meaning to check out that app for ages) so you will see a progression as you get fitter. Sometimes seeing it on paper or on an app can really encourage you. The Mayoclinc.com also has a “12-week walking schedule” for those who need to start slowly.
Add in Tabata intervals
As you get fitter and feel you want a bit of a challenge, add in a Tabata session every so often to increase fitness. Do a 5 minute warm up and then speed up for 20 seconds – and then slow right down for 10 seconds. Do this 4 times each. A very simple and short session. You can check out my review on a Tabata timing app called “Tabata Timer” here.
Warm up, Cool down and stretching
In Dr Roizen’s book he recommends from 1-7 minutes warm up depending on your age. Going on a upwards sliding scale from 30 years through to 90 years old. He also recommends stretching at the end of your walk, after the cool down, for about 2-3 minutes (mine went from 5-10 minutes usually.)
I found this “12-minute stretch chart” (scroll to the bottom to download) to be VERY beneficial and made a HUGE difference in how my body recovered.
I also have problems at times with the piriformis muscle (and sciatica.) This video has a simple explanation on what that is and `How to Fix Piriformis Syndrome”. I do these exercises whenever I feel it coming on.
It’s very easy for things to get in the way of that daily walk. Some of mine:
- Earlier this year, my then 3 year old was going through a “mini strike” stage. A 3 year old can really put the brakes on a regular walk that’s for sure! But great for the weight training!
- Time can be an issue running a family of 6 with all their various social lives to be fitted in.
- With going to the gym pretty much out of the picture (to many $$$ for the time and childcare), as part of a Christmas present I now have a stationary bike. It’s mainly for the days that I can’t get out or things just don’t go to plan.
- Unfortunately my motivation to go outside isn’t high in winter….OK, so its pretty much NIL. I really don’t do cold weather well. Now the better weather is coming on I am looking forward to getting out and walking more.
A little extra help with motivation
I love a bit of technology and the things that go with it, so of course I looked for an app. I fiddled around with a few apps and ended up settling on an one called “Just Start Walking” by the Chiropractors Association of Australia. You can see my review here. I can listen to my podcasts and get in anywhere from 30 mins to an hour of walking. I usually end up walking more because I get so much from my podcasts.
Another thing I did was splashed out on the things that helped me in my walking. Good walking shoes, an armband for my iPhone, and decent headphones. All worth it. You might have other things like a good all weather jacket for winter. I encourage you (if you can) to go out and get these things if they are the obstacles that are stopping you from walking.
Of course, there is so much more that we can talk about regarding walking for exercise. But for now it is enough to just get started. Let’s see how we all progress.