Monday, February 7, 2011

Walk Your Way to Goal
    By Dotti

How many of us have said, "I don't have time to exercise" or "I hate exercising"?  I'll bet many of us at one time or another have said those exact words.  I know I have.  I have found that once I'm in the habit of exercising it is rather easy and enjoyable but once I get out of the habit it takes forever to get back into exercising.  Sound familiar?
Walking is the one exercise most of us can do.  If you are just starting out then walk about 5 minutes from your house and head back. Keep it up until you can go 10 minutes out and then head back.  20 minutes a day is all you need to gain health and fitness according to many experts. 
The benefits your will gain from a 20 minute walk each day are fantastic.  Let's look at a few:
Hungry?  Believe it or not walking will reduce the nervous stress that leads to nervous snacking.

Tired?  Yep, walking can actually wake you up and energize you because walking improves circulation to your arms and legs stimulating the growth of tiny blood vessels throughout your body. This improvement in collateral (extra) blood circulation leads to a greater efficiency of your entire cardiovascular system, which in turn combats the tired feeling.

Bad Mood?  Walk and stew.  Walking increases blood circulation to your muscles, which reduces muscle tension and stimulates the release of endorphins.  After walking 20 minutes you will find that your bad mood will disappear.

Memory not so good?   Many scientists have shown that by exercising you will retain your memory, judgment and hand-eye coordination better than sedentary people.  Walking has an invigorating effect on your brain cells.

Want to lose some weight?  We've all been told to exercise when trying to lose weight.  Strolling at 3 mph over level ground burns 240 calories an hour.  Brisk walking at 4 mph burns 360 calories and fast walking at 5 or 6 mph with arm swinging can burn about 500 calories an hour—equivalent to jogging.

Feet hurt?  After being in your high heels or hard leather all day, walking for a bit in your comfortable walking shoes will be a nice thing.  Walk slowly at first until your feet relax into the comfort of the walking shoes.

Stuffed?  Ate too much? After you've waited about an hour for your big meal to settle, try taking a walk.  Walking speeds up digestion, keeps the bowels regular and prevents constipation by stimulating your abdominal muscles.  It also encourages the muscles to burn the fats circulating in the blood, instead of the blood sugar, helping you burn up some calories.

Afraid of getting heart disease?   Walking/exercise strengthens the heart's ability to pump and helps it withstand stress. The aerobically fit heart pumps more oxygen and blood, meaning it works more efficiently.  This makes it so you have a slower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Nervous?  Upset?  Walking will keep you in the best shape possible for dealing with everyday problems.  You'll be able to think more clearly and handle your emotions better after a nice walk.
Walking is an excellent aerobic exercise that stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles and increases the circulation of the blood so that it benefits every organ of the body. As I mentioned above, walking does improve your mood and reduce stress.  Many psychiatrists recommend walking as therapy to their depressed patients.
Most people who exercise, including those who walk, will experience a boost in fitness after two or three months of regular exercising.  So, please, try and stick to your walking program so that you may benefit from exercising. After two or three months of regular exercise you'll feel a boost of power when walking up a flight of stairs, jog up the street or lift a heavy bag.
Many people believe if they have dropped exercise programs in the past then they will likely do it again. Studies have shown this is not true and that it often takes several tries to change an ingrained habit.  If you've given up in the past then you know what does and doesn't work for you.  Use that knowledge to succeed this time.
Did you know that once your metabolic engine is warmed up by walking, it continues to burn more energy for the next six hours?  Scientists estimate that you can lose an extra four to five pounds a year by increased calorie burning. Middle-aged adults who are active tend to be in a much better mood than their more sedentary counterparts.  Higher self-esteem is a direct result from regular long-term exercising.  Because walking is virtually injury-free, it has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise.  Makes sense to me. 
I have found walking a nice way to get in some fresh air and spend some quality time with a loved one.  Al and I have some of our best discussions while walking.  Walking also does indeed put you in a good mood and lifts your spirits if you're down. 
For now I'm focusing on doing my elliptical due to my arthritic hip issues but I track my miles.  I can walk little walks and will eventually try to get in my 20 minutes walking because I know walking and moving is one of the best things for your weight loss Journey.
How many of you will be walking this week?  Make it part of your "ME TIME". Make it an adventure. Walk with your best friend or a loved one.  Make sure you take in the surroundings and fresh air.  I'll bet you get home feeling like a million bucks! 

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