The national recommendation for regular physical activity to stay healthy is attainable. Adults are encouraged to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week or more. This means walking the dog or walking to the bus stop counts as exercise.
In fact, the Library of Medicine says walking for fitness was the primary activity reported by people who met the national recommendation for healthy exercise.
Research from Duke University Medical Center confirms the amount of exercise is more important than the intensity, and walking yields significant aerobic benefits, especially a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Walking for fitness can help keep joints fluid, but it also may cause soreness or stiffness in the knees and ankles. Use these tips to get the most out of walking:
First things first — ask the doc. Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise routine if you have been largely sedentary or suffer from existing health conditions.
Dress for the occasion. Wear comfortable clothing that's loose-fitting. If it's cool, wear layers. Cushioned socks and shoes that fit well are also important. Remember that tennis shoe sizes may be larger than dress shoe sizes.
Be preemptive. Applying a pain relief liquid before activity can help loosen up leg muscles.
Stretch. Begin by walking leisurely for a few minutes, then stretch such key muscles as glutes, calves and quads. Once your muscles are warmed up, gradually increase your speed, and pay attention to your posture.
For hydration, trust your body. Generally speaking, if you plan on walking for more than a half-hour, bring water with you. But you also can trust your thirst. If you're concerned with over-drinking, consume fluids only when you're thirsty. For marathons, no more than one cup of water per mile is a good rule of thumb.