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    Want to feel better? Take a walk!

If you are like me, you don’t want to hear about another diet or diet plan for at least the next ten years. Whether it is the newest fad diet or a fairly reasonable low fat, low carb diet, most of us have had our fill of them. But when you pick up the latest magazines you can be sure you’ll see plenty of new headlines about diets and weight. Why? Because for most of us, weight control is an ongoing problem. Whether we were skinny or chubby kids, most of us have a few extra pounds to contend with in our senior years.

Any intelligent adult knows how to lose weight. You simply increase your activity and decrease your calorie intake. Yes, it is simple, but oh, how difficult to do! We love to eat and a good portion of our entertainment revolves around the sharing of food. The answer is eating a healthy diet in moderate portions. But let’s focus on the most accessible and direct way to add calorie-burning activity to our busy days. Let’s walk!


Have you heard about walking 10,000 steps a day? That idea has been around for a while as a means to increase activity. If you do a little walk around the house you will soon realize that you can’t get 10,000 steps in with your normal routines, you will have to add a nice intentional walk to achieve that count. I am convinced that exercising and dieting go better with some motivational support. Do you remember the little charts you made for your kids to motivate them to do their chores? Why not make one for yourself related to your addition of daily walking? It is easy to get an approximate step count during your neighborhood or treadmill walk. I find that I walk about 100 steps per minute, so I start my day with 3500 steps before drinking my first cup of coffee. It is a great way to wake up and get the metabolism going.

Another reason to walk is that it is good for the overall health of our entire bodies. It is low impact exercise, requires little gear and has the added benefit of getting you out of doors at least in good weather. Your muscles are getting a work-out, your heart is happy and your body is burning calories with each step. Doctors generally recommend that you walk between 30 and 60 minutes per day at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. You should be able to carry on a conversation easily at that rate. Distance is more important than speed.

Be sure to take reasonable precautions before adding any new exercise program to your days. Your doctor will most likely be thrilled if you begin to walk, but talk to him or her first. Wear good shoes for support, layer your clothing for comfort, and wear reflective colors if you walk after dark. A good walk begins with a few minutes of warm-up, a short break for some stretches, then the main body of the walk. It ends with a gentle stretch. Look online for pedometers to track your steps, and be sure to do research before purchasing a treadmill as they can cost anywhere from $500 to over $3,000 and are a major purchase. If walking alone isn’t your cup of tea, find a partner or join a walking club. The time flies by when you are walking with a partner or with a group and the social aspect makes getting your exercise a joy. 

Don’t want to diet? Want to enjoy life and feel tension-free? Don’t have a lot of money to hire a personal trainer? Then you can take the simple route to better health: add a daily walk to your routine, get your step count up to around 10,000 and enjoy the benefits of a slimmer, healthier body.