So… you are sitting there watching Empire and you know that you need to get more exercise. Everybody knows that exercise has important health benefits that helps to fight off the high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease that runs in so many families.
Of course you have excuses.
• The gym is boring / intimidating / expensive.
• There’s not enough time.
• My knee / back / hip isn’t up to it these days.
• It’s no fun.
• Football in on television
• Scandal’s on
Sound familiar? Well, guess what? Walking works!
As part of the Step It Up! campaign, Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy suggests walking as one ways to the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. In Philadelphia, most of us aren’t getting even close to the amount of exercise we need.
Walking is really easy to get started. You don’t need any special equipment. And regular walking can be just as healthy as running or going to the gym – you don’t have to sweat to start feeling better. The goal is to walk for 30 minutes, 5 days per week, but you don’t have to start there – you just need to get there eventually! Start with 10 minutes, or even 5 minutes if that’s what you feel you can do. But try to commit to that 5 or 10 minutes every day until it becomes a habit. And then try to build on it.
Make walking time a mini-vacation in your day. What do you need and enjoy? Need time alone to relax? Put together a playlist and listen to music while you walk. Crave time to chat with a friend? Reach out to your friends and you’ll likely find more than one who would love a walking partner. You’re carving out a little time for yourself, to take care of you, so it needs to be fun as well as healthy or you won’t want to keep doing it.
Walking can improve your health, your happiness and, if you join one of our groups, it will give you the chance to explore the outdoors, get to know your local area and meet new people.
Robert Bell likes to walk along Kelly Drive. Despite the many challenges he faces, he has found ways to fit walking into his life. Here’s Bell’s story:
How to get the most out of your walk
What’s great about walking is that we know how to do it. No complicated routines or scary-looking machines – one foot in front of the other and we’re off!
But good posture can make all the difference, so if you don’t always feel comfortable when you’re out and about, make sure you stand up straight but relaxed. Look ahead. Swing your arms in time with your stride. And breathe deeply – in time with your steps if you can.
All walking is good for you, but brisk is best – especially for your heart and lungs. Brisk walking makes your heart beat faster, makes your breathing deeper and gives you a warm glow.
Lots of people start slowly and build up to a brisk pace as they go. Then they slow down towards the end and finish off with a gentle pace. How do you know when you are walking briskly? Try taking the ‘Talk Test’ – you should still be able to have a conversation while you’re walking. If you can’t, then slow down.
If you’re carrying a backpack, make sure the straps are adjusted so they hold the pack snugly on your back – and if there’s a hip belt, use it.
Need someone to walk with? Below are links to more information about area walking groups or starting one of your own:
The Philadelphia City Hall Walk
This event meets every Tuesday and Friday at noon outside room 612 of City Hall. Photo ID required to enter City Hall. Enter at the Northeast corner for security sign in.
PHL Distance Walkers
PHL Distance Walkers is for anyone who likes to go for long walks.