Walking for Fitness

A realistic way to build up to 10,000 steps a day.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans  recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination each week. The guidelines also recommend that children and adolescents be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Following these guidelines can contribute to overall health and decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Walking is a great way to get the physical activity needed to obtain health benefits. Walking does not require any unique skills. It does not require a gym membership or expensive equipment. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can improve sleep, memory, and the ability to think and learn. It also reduces anxiety symptoms.

If you are just starting out, this could feel overwhelming. Not everyone should start right out trying to walk 10,000 steps a day.  So instead, follow the advice of  “slow and steady wins the race”!  Always get clearance from your physician before starting an exercise program, especially if you have any health issues or problems with your feet.

If you don’t have a smart watch that tracks your movement, invest in a pedometer.  These can be purchased in many sporting goods stores. You really don’t need anything fancy, just something that can count your steps.  One suggestion is to purchase one that can be attached to your clothing so that your pedometer isn’t dropped or lost.  

Now follow the simple program below. The first week, don’t change your schedule at all; just learn your baseline average daily step total. As you increase your steps over the next several weeks, try to boost your steps by about 20-25%. 

Friends out for a walk with Magpul sun glasses, Black Rifle Coffee, Safe LivinG and LaCrosse
Walking in Lacrosse Boots
Friends out on a walk and hike with RMEF, Federal Premium, LaCrosse and Sabre

Week 1:
The goal is to measure your steps in a typical week. Keep to your normal schedule and don’t add any extra activity.  If you are using a pedometer, reset it to zero every day and wear it all day from the moment you get up until you go to bed.  Keep a daily log and write your numbers down each day with the number of steps you have taken.  Also note if you have exercised that day and how many minutes you exercised.  Do this for one week. Add up your steps for all seven days and divide this number by 7 then multiply by 1.2-1.25 to get your new daily goal for week #2.  If you are wearing a smart watch, check your app for your daily total at the end of the day.  

Week 2:
If you average 3,000 steps a day during week one, try for 3,600 steps a day for week two. How you reach your goal is up to you. You can add a few steps by taking stairs instead of the elevator, or even park a little farther away from the building when you get to your destination. Add steps by taking several trips to the mailbox or just down your street.

Week 2 log – add your steps for all 7 days, divide by 7 and multiply by 1.2 – 1.25.  This becomes your goal for week #3

You can continue this 20-25% increase weekly until you reach your daily 10,000 step goal. Even if you only try for 10% more each week, you are still increasing your steps and moving toward your goal. There are no rules, just keep moving!

Walking for exercise can really help you get to your 10,000 step goal!  Walking burns about 100 calories per mile. Build daily walking into your routine most days of the week for great exercise and health benefits!  Make sure you have the right shoes for walking.  Your feet will thank you. 

Consider meeting a friend to walk. This is great accountability and is safer than exercising alone. There are groups that meet to walk in local malls, groups that walk in parks or trails, or you can create your own walking group! Check www.americawalks.org for walking groups near you or for more information on walking.  If you listen to music, listen in just one ear.  You want to be able to hear what’s happening around you.  Tuck your phone away in your pocket or fanny pack.  Enjoy the scenery and stay safe by being aware of your surroundings. Now get walking!

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