Overwhelmed by an all or nothing approach? It really doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s about inching your way towards a healthy lifestyle every day. Every step taken, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
Let’s explore walking. Walking is one of the easiest ways to get fit and stay fit. With every step you take, you work multiple muscles and bones at once and this helps burn calories and improves fitness. Of course, I’m not talking about taking a leisurely stroll; I’m talking about a walk that gets your heart rate up! You can do walking as a beginner or an advanced exerciser. It really is that versatile.
The first thing to do for any level of exercise is to measure a walking course using the odometer in your car. This is how you’ll be able to measure your progress. Beginners can start out by mapping a flat course. Walking as little as 10 minute increments three times per day, three days per week and work your way up to 30 minutes or more per day, 3-6 days a week. Each week, increase your speed, your duration, or your distance. Increasing your heart rate is the name of the game and you can do this by increasing your speed, pumping your arms or increasing your mileage.
Advanced exercisers can pump up the volume by incorporating intervals. Intervals are an excellent way to burn more calories and to make workouts more interesting. Intervals alternate higher intensity periods with recovery periods. For example, after a 5-10 minute warm-up, increase your pace or walk up hill for 1 minute, then decrease your pace or walk on a flat course for 1-2 minutes until you are fully recovered and then repeat multiple times. As you become stronger you can increase your work period and decrease your recovery period within your intervals
Always cool down by walking slowly for a few minutes and follow-up with stretches to prevent injury and to increase flexibility.
Fine Print: Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
You’ve heard it before and I’m saying it again; start making better choices about what you eat! This isn’t an all or noth- ing kind of plan. It’s a starter plan. This means taking care of your body and making choices to nourish your body. Begin by making a choice that supports nourishing your body. For example, to drink one more glass of water each day, eat a fresh vegetable everyday or a piece of fresh fruit each day for the next month or until it feels natural to you. Then, choose another goal for the second month and so on. Soon you’ll be nourishing your body and feeling healthy and more powerful.
We are all so busy that we often forget to pause and take care of ourselves. We end up exhausted, not getting enough rest and eventually getting sick. It’s a vicious cycle that gets the best of us. Begin today by pausing to take care of yourself. What is right for you is as unique to yourself as your DNA. It could be taking time to read your favorite book; meeting a friend for lunch; relaxing into a 10-minute meditation. It doesn’t matter what it is or how long it is, it’s about making a choice that replenishes your heart, mind and/or body to a place of balance. This enables us to meet the demands of the everyday stuff we encounter in our lives. You know the old saying, “When momma’s taken care of, we all are taken care of.” Do your part in taking care of momma!
This article first appeared in Ms. Magazine.