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How to Start a Walking Program
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Did you know that walking is the number one participation sport in the world?  Walking is one of the best things you can do for overall health and wellness.  When you walk you use more muscles than any other sport.  In fact, walking uses almost all of the 650 muscles and 203 bones found in the human body. So what are you waiting for?

There is not much involved in starting a walking program. You can start immediately and you don't need a coach to teach you how to walk.  The equipment required to start is minimal and relatively inexpensive.

Important Equipment
The most important piece of equipment you will need is a good pair of walking or running shoe.   Most shoe stores and sporting goods stores should be able to supply you with a good selection.  You can also check out some of the online stores, you will find some good sources at DrLeonards.com or FootSmart.com. You may also want to think about getting  yourself a pedometer.  Pedometers are handy little gadgets that can measure your distance and time and help you keep track of your progress.

Why am I walking?
Now that you have your equipment and are ready to go, it might be nice to know why you are starting a walking program.  The health benefits of walking are many and include the following:

                    Helps with weight loss.
                    Helps to reduce blood pressure
                    Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
                    Relieves stress
                    Boosts overall energy levels
                    Strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease
                    Studies have shown that walking relieves depression and  anxiety
                    Strengthens your body
                    Burns almost the same amount of calories as running

How should I start?
Since walking uses almost all 650 of your muscles it is a very good idea to warm up before you begin a walk.  This will loosen up your body and help to avoid injury. 

How long should I walk?
You should build up to walking for about one hour.  Your current fitness level will determine the length and time of your first walk.   Some people will only be able to walk around the block, others will able to walk the full hour. Do what you feel comfortable with and build from that point.  Keep a log to measure your progress.  As you become fitter, increase the pace and distance. 

Personally, I like to measure my walks in distance.  A pedometer will be of great assistance.  Measuring your walk in distance helps to compensate for days when you might walk a little slower or faster.  After your first few walks try to achieve a brisk pace where you may be puffing a little but you can still talk.  Remember, there is not much difference in the amount of energy (calories) expended by walking or running a specified distance.

After you have finished your walk don't forget to cool down.  Try to spend about 5 minutes walking slowly.  This will allow your heart, lungs and blood flow to return to normal gradually. This decreases strain on your heart and can help to prevent muscle strain and soreness.

Hey, you've seen the commercials.  Now you just have to commit yourself to walking on a regular schedule.  Make it part of your routine just like brushing your teeth.  It's easy to do and doesn't require special training or equipment.  Just do it!

By Michael Brooks
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.


Biography: Mike Brooks has been a life long follower and proponent of the fitness lifestyle. Through his avid research, Mr. Brooks has come to the realization that being healthy is a choice and encompasses not only proper diet but also a fitness regimen that includes the mind, body and soul.

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