Starting a Walking Program

Families, Food and Fitness November 18, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Did you know that you can gain up to 2 hours of life for every hour you spend exercising? Research has shown that walking is a great way to get in your daily exercise needs, and walking has the lowest drop-out rate of any exercise! Spending just 30 minutes a day pounding the pavement can help you reduce your risk of developing:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Breast and colon cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes

Walking can improve your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels. It also helps you maintain weight and enhances your mental well-being. So what are you waiting for? Use these tips to start a walking program, and enjoy the multitude of benefits this simple exercise can offer.


Man walking


  • Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with you.
  • Wear shoes and good socks that cushion your feet and absorb shock.
  • Wear clothes that keep you dry and comfortable. Synthetic fabrics absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
  • Wear a knit cap in the winter to keep your head warm. In the summer, opt for a baseball cap or visor to shield the sun.
  • Do light stretching exercises before and after you walk. Do not bounce while you stretch.
  • Your walk should have a beginning (walk slowly for 5 minutes), a middle (increase your speed for the next 5 minutes), and an end or cool down (walk slowly for 5 minutes).
  • Try to walk at least three times per week. Each day, increase your walk time by 2 to 3 minutes. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
  • To avoid stiff or sore muscles, start gradually. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time.
  • The more you walk, the better you will feel. The more you walk, the more calories you burn!

References:

American Heart Association. Start! Walking Program. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3053034

How do I start a walking program? Mississippi in Motion Information Sheet 1774, (POD 11-05) Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Be safe when walking/jogging. Mississippi in Motion Information Sheet 1776, (POD 11-05) Mississippi State University Extension Service.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.