Walking for Health – a Beginner’s Guide

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Walking for Health
Walking for Health – a Beginner’s Guide

Walking is easy for most of us. You just put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, you arrive at a destination. Walking is more than basic transportation, though. Since walking is easy, it’s also an excellent intro to beginning exercise for healthy people. It requires only basic equipment (comfortable shoes) and an optional pedometer to track your progress.

Know the Benefits of Walking

Walking, like most aerobic exercises, helps strengthen bones, decrease depression, and lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.  It also helps trim the waistline, tones the abdomen and legs, and increases healthy weight loss.

However, walking for health imparts unique benefits.

  • No special equipment – All you need is a pair of shoes, comfortable clothing and, ideally, a pedometer.
  • Easy to do with a friend – It’s hard to carry on a conversation during high-impact exercises like running or HIIT.  Having a good talk with a friend has it’s own cathartic benefits.
  • More scenic than a gym.
  • May lower Alzheimer’s risk according to a University of Virginia study.
  • Improves mood – a 10-minute walk can improve your mood for 2 hours.  Get 3 10-minute walks a day and have 6-hours of feel good time.  Sounds like a good use of time to me!
  • It’s low impact and doesn’t stress the body as much as some other forms of physical fitness

How Much Walking Do You Need?

Walking for health and fitness can help burn calories, trim your waistline, and even help stave off serious health issues like Alzheimer’s and heart disease. It requires minimal equipment and is the easiest of all fitness routines to start.
Walking for health and fitness can help burn calories, trim your waistline, and even help stave off serious health issues like Alzheimer’s and heart disease. It requires minimal equipment and is the easiest of all fitness routines to start.

Fitness experts recommend 10,000 steps a day for weight loss.  That works out to about 30 minutes of brisk walking, or approximately five miles.  In that 30 minutes, most average-sized adults burn about around calories.

Don’t feel like you have to jump in with a 10,000 step goal.  Start with something that works for you.  Wear a pedometer for a few days to see what your average daily step count is.  Then, start from there and add a few hundred steps.  Reach that goal consistently.  Then, adjust your aim accordingly.

As I’ve stated in my goal setting blog post, to know if you are reaching your goals, you have to make your goals measurable, achievable, and you have to track your progress.  It doesn’t matter if you start at 10,000 or 1,000.  Just start at a number that is challenging for you. Count and track.

Many people use expensive gadgets that track their pulse rate and sleep habits, in addition to their daily steps.  For the average fitness walker, these devices are probably overkill. But I do recommend using a pedometer to ensure you’re getting your steps.

Tracking Those Steps with a Pedometer

I’ve been using the SC2 Digital Pedometer from OZO Fitness.  They also sell their pedometer on Amazon.  It clips easily to a belt or a lanyard and continues to track if hidden discretely in a shirt pocket.  If you choose to carry it in a pocket, I do recommend putting it in a pocket that isn’t impacted by sitting or squatting.

count walking steps with SC2 Digital Pedometer from OZO Fitness
SC2 Digital Pedometer by OZO Fitness has a large easy-to-see screen.

It works as a watch, too and has a large screen.  Trust me, my old eyes appreciate this feature.  The SC2 also maintains 7 days worth of records and resets daily at midnight.

count walking steps with SC2 Digital Pedometer from OZO Fitness
SC2 Digital Pedometer from OZO Fitness – clip on back

I’ve actually lost other pedometers because the clip came loose, but haven’t had that problem with the SC2 Digital Pedometer.  The sturdy clip stays right where I put it all day long.

I have noticed a bit of discrepancy between the counts on my FitBit and the SC2.  I believe that is because the SC2 doesn’t start counting steps until you have taken 15 in a row to control for false step counting.  Whereas, my FitBit starts counting immediately and definitely counts false steps.  One time, it counted several hundred steps when I was sweeping the floor in a small kitchen.

The discrepancy (about 200-300 steps a day) is minute enough, however, that I feel confident recommending the SC2 to someone who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.  It’s also a great option for someone that doesn’t think a black, plastic-looking watch is an attractive fashion accessory.

It’s also easy to set up.  Here’s a video I made showing how to configure the OZO Fitness SC2 Digital Pedometer.

Proper Walking Technique

To get the most benefit from walking for fitness, you should utilize proper form.  You will burn more calories and better prevent injuries.

  • Keep your chin up.  Look straight ahead and not at the ground.  Not only are you more aware of your surroundings (which is better for your personal safety), you are also putting less stress on the neck.
  • Bend your arms as you swing them.  You burn more calories if you bend your arms while swinging them than if you let them flow naturally.
  • Engage the core.  Tightening your abdomen as you walk helps to trim the waistline.  It also contributes to strengthening the hip flexors which, in turn, protect the lower back.
  • Roll from the heel to the ball of the foot.  This action strengthens the calves and ankles helping with balance and coordination.
  • Increase intensity as your fitness improves. Look for inclines.  Walk a little faster.  Swing your arms a little faster.

Easy Tricks to Sneak in More Daily Steps

10,000 steps may seem a bit daunting, but there are some sneaky ways to get them in – and no, I’m not talking about sweeping with a FitBit to falsely inflate your numbers.

  • Don’t take the easy way out doing household chores.  Carrying a basket with you as you clean your home may be more efficient, but it’s robbing you of some extra steps.  As I am cleaning, I take the most inefficient route.  For example, when doing laundry, I don’t pile it all in a basket and go room to room with it.  I put up the bathroom towels and return to the stack.  I get the kitchen towels and put them away.  Then I go back to the laundry room for the next room’s clothing.  I actually add about 500 steps to my day this way.
  • Walk to the store.  If you need only a couple of essentials, and the store isn’t far away, then enjoy a walk.  I have agoraphobia and do not drive.  Frequently, I call up my son who lives across the street to meet me at the end of my driveway for a walk to the grocery store.  I get fresh air and get to spend time with my son, while still feeling a little safer.
  • Take the Stairs.  Again, I do this naturally due to my agoraphobia.  I prefer not to take the stairs. However, most people rely on the elevator or escalator to reach higher floors.  Consider taking at least a few flights of stairs instead.  You get in more steps, but you also burn more calories since stair climbing increases intensity.
  • Park farther away. Don’t circle the parking lot like a buzzard looking for the best parking spots.  Save those places for the elderly and pregnant moms with toddlers that really need them.  Not only will you not stress yourself out fighting frantically for prime real estate, but you’ll also shave a few more steps off your daily goal.
  • Pace During Phone Calls. Get up from your desk (or off the couch) when you talk on the phone.  If you have a 10-minute phone conversation, put on your earbuds and go for a walk.  What do you know? You’ve completed 1/3rd of your daily fitness requirement!
  • Dance while you do chores. Up your step-count and get in a little more butt and core work by listening to music and dancing.  A little fancy footwork helps burn calories and increases the step count.

So, that’s the basics.  How do you think integrating walking goals into your daily life could benefit you?

 

This post is sponsored by OZO Fitness, but all opinions are my own.

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Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.


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Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It’s just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I’m loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

31 Comments

  • Kerri

    July 7, 2016 - 5:56 am

    I’m trying my best to add more steps to my day. This would help with my weight loss goal. Now, to find my pedometer!

  • Marielle Altenor

    July 6, 2016 - 8:28 pm

    My hubby walks a lot. I need to start walking more to get rid of some of this baby weight that I put on in the last couple of months.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 7, 2016 - 4:57 pm

      Maybe you could walk with him – bonding!

  • Tatanisha W

    July 6, 2016 - 5:26 pm

    We try to walk a few times a week. It’s definitely important especially if you have health issues! Thanks for the tips and reminder!

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 7, 2016 - 4:57 pm

      Yes – it’s a great form of exercise when health issues prevent you from doing more.

  • LauraFunk

    July 6, 2016 - 10:35 am

    We are walking regularly to help get our family up and moving and away from the TV, it is wonderful family time

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:20 pm

      It is! And it instills the early love of being active in the kids!

  • Nicole Escat

    July 5, 2016 - 11:52 pm

    I’ve started to have a daily exercise last week and I know it really works, It’s important to have an daily exercise with good and healthy food.

  • Emily, Our house now a home

    July 5, 2016 - 11:45 pm

    I love your ideas, starting small and setting realistic goals. It can feel to begin and bexause of that some don’t even start. I am all for simple gadgets, anything more detailed and I always need my husband to figure it out.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:21 pm

      I had to start off small when I started working out. I would watch these trainers yelling “push yourself. You can do this.” While I am all for challenging yourself, you have to work within your own boundaries.

  • The Trophy WifeStyle

    July 5, 2016 - 10:11 pm

    I’m all about waking! So many of my friends run but ughhh…. I’m definitely the walker of the group!

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:21 pm

      Me too! I actually have Ankylosing Spondylisis, so running is difficult on my hips.

  • Scott

    July 5, 2016 - 9:10 pm

    We found out that the new iPhones automatically track your steps/etc. One day it said I walked over 12 miles (we were in D.C. touring the museums).

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:22 pm

      Yep – The androids do that, too. I don’t carry a cell phone though. I know *gasp*, right?

  • Renz

    July 5, 2016 - 7:41 pm

    I’ve just started back walking. Still not as consistent as I would like to be but I hope to get there soon

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:22 pm

      Kudos to you! Set small goals, meet them, and move the goal post. You will get there!

  • Helene Cohen Bludman

    July 5, 2016 - 5:47 pm

    I love walking and can easily get to 10,000 steps a day when I’m on vacation.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:23 pm

      I have a very difficult time getting 10,000 a day, unless I’m on vacation at Disney or someplace that requires a lot of walking. At home, even with all my active working out and lifestyle, I really have to strive for it.

  • Elizabeth O

    July 5, 2016 - 3:45 pm

    I’m a big advocate for walking; I’ve enjoyed its many health benefits for years. I also live near water so walking by the river offers additional restorative benefits.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:24 pm

      Yes, it does! I live in the middle of the woods and love walking around the wildlife. I used to like walking on the beach, but it’s grown up so much in the last few years that it’s not relaxing anymore – just too many tourists.

  • Michele

    July 5, 2016 - 3:05 pm

    I was amazed at how little I walked until I started tracking my steps!! This is a great guide, walking is one of my favorite forms of exercise.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:24 pm

      It’s a great form – and the easiest to stick with!

  • Kristen from The Road to Domestication

    July 5, 2016 - 2:56 pm

    Great info here! I walk our dog every morning, and I try to park far away in parking lots, too!

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 6, 2016 - 1:25 pm

      I don’t drive and my husband usually wants to find the closest spot. When I did drive, I parked in the boonies and walked.

  • Amanda

    July 5, 2016 - 1:50 pm

    Great tips! I walk with my children at least 4 nights a week. It’s a great way to exercise and spend quality time together too!

  • loisaltermark

    July 5, 2016 - 12:10 pm

    This is such a good resource, and it answers so many important questions. I need to start walking more, and I think you just motivated me to put my sneakers on and get moving.

  • Judy

    July 2, 2016 - 9:51 pm

    I used to think that I walked quite a lot until I got inspired by your weight loss and started wearing a fitness tracker. I then seen that I was only getting about 2,000 steps a day. In the beginning it was very hard to get more steps but I have been using several of the tips that you wrote about and yep it really adds up fast. Working in the yard has been a big help also. I have felt so much better and it is great way to relive stress 🙂 too.

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 3, 2016 - 2:42 pm

      I am so glad to hear that! It is a great stress reliever. I feel much less stressed than I used to.

  • Gary Curtis

    July 2, 2016 - 10:43 am

    Excellent article Alicia, and yes walking has amazing benefits! If you would like to expand upon the pedometer ,and learn about Fitness Trackers and what they are all about, then feel free to visit our website for a free 32 page tracker guide! (Kind regards from a EKred member)

    • Alicia Taylor

      July 3, 2016 - 2:42 pm

      Thank you, Gary! I will definitely check it out.

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