Today is National Walking Day, sponsored by the American Heart Association, and I am huge proponent of walking for exercise so of course we have to talk about it! It’s cheap (really essentially free), readily available and you can start anywhere. When I first started losing weight, walking was my primary form of exercise and it’s still one of my favorites because it’s so easy to fit in. There have been lots of days when I couldn’t get outside because of weather or childcare responsibilities and my exercise for the day was walking in my bedroom in front of the TV. When I first started exercising, I would do this for just ten minutes a day and I’ll admit, it was work to start with because I was so out of shape. Over time, it got easier and I worked my way up with walks outside on the hills around my neighborhood, the Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds workouts (cheesy but effective) and the Wii Walk it Out game (both discussed here in more detail).
According to the American Heart Association, as little as 30 minutes of walking a day can yield some serious benefits, like:
- Decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Decreased blood pressure, blood sugar and lipid levels
- Increased mental well being
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis
- Decreased risk of breast and colon cancer
- Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes
- Decreased risk of obesity
Even better, you don’t have to find 30 minutes to walk or even be able to walk 30 minutes at a time. Break it up into small chunks throughout your day of 5 or 10 minutes. Start where you are and move up! Every little bit of movement counts and get things going in the right direction.
I go through phases where I’m really good about getting more walking in my day, from my love affair with my FitBit to crazy tricks like walking around the grocery store in the order of my list instead of in the order of the store. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten out of those habits. I look back at that list of “getting steps in” now and realize I’ve stopped doing a lot of those things, even walking to the mailbox instead of driving. In honor of National Walking Day, I’m hearby pledging to get 30 minutes of walking in every day this month. That’s probably going to look like lots of little 5 minute breaks of pacing in my office, but if it gets me up and moving, great! I’ve also signed Oliver up for our local Heart Walk with the 1 mile Children’s Walk to get him out and active too. We have a family history of heart disease and with my personal history of high blood pressure, I want to do everything I can to keep this ticker healthy. Walking is a great way to do that! Today I have cross-training on the schedule and gorgeous weather outside, so I’ll be stopping at the park to go for a walk before I pick O up at school and celebrate National Walking Day in my own little way.
For more information about National Walking Day, be sure to check out these sites on National Walking Day and walking in general from the American Heart Association. Here’s also a link for a great Walk-Away-the-Pounds style indoor walking workout from SparkPeople to get you started if the weather isn’t as good in your neck of the woods.
Is your community doing a Heart Walk or anything else for National Walking Day? Just as importantly, does using the phrase “your neck of the woods” reveal my Southern country girl roots too much? 🙂