Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Walk for Health and Long Life: 3 Tips for Getting Started

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Jan 8, 2018 10:59 AM

Scientists and health experts have long known that 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise, like walking, reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Recent studies have found people over 60 years of age who walk consistently - even if it is less than 2.5 hours a week - are more likely to live longer than those who don't engage in any regular walking.

For any age group, walking is an easy and efficient part of a weight-loss plan or a general effort to get more fit. It burns nearly the same amount of calories--up to 200 calories an hour depending on speed--as high impact exercises. In fact, you're also more likely to stick with an exercise plan centered around walking. All you need is a decent pair of shoes and a safe space to walk, and you're on your way. "Set 2 goals when you go for your walk", says Philip Freed PA-C, Principal Consultant at CMEDDS. "My first goal is time, and my final goal is total steps. Try to find three days a week you can invest 2 hours in walking, and in no time, 12,000-16,000 steps will be a healthy and practical goal."

Here are three tips for starting a concerted effort to walk for fitness and long life:

1. Set a step goal: Most smartphones have apps available to count your daily steps. There are also low-cost pedometers on the market that serve the same purpose. Though many people set 10,000 steps (about five miles) as their daily goal, there's no magic in that number. If you are starting a walking program for the first time, you may want to start with a lower goal and make an effort to increase it every week.

2. Find opportunities to walk more during your daily routine: Park as far from the store as you can. Walk your dog rather than let him in the yard or take him to the dog park. Walk around the neighborhood after dinner or when you get home from work. Take the stairs whenever possible.

3. Recruit your family and friends into your walking routine: Walk your kids to school in the morning. Find a friend and meet for regular "walk and talk" dates. Make your next meeting at work a walking meeting. Join the neighborhood watch group and patrol your community while meeting new friends. Join a local hiking club or offer to lead a hike for your religious organization or children's school.

Less than 50% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, and too many don't do any activity at all. The result is a nation plagued with obesity and chronic disease. Making an effort to walk more is a simple and proven way to get healthier and live longer. In hindsight according to Philip Freed, "When I invest in my health, people notice as the weight comes off and I look healthy."

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