The idea of exercising regularly may seem daunting – but focusing on walking as your primary workout activity can make it easier. Walking is a simple form of exercise that offers significant benefits for your heart health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), exercising just 30 minutes day, five days a week can decrease your risk of heart disease.
Not sure how to get started with a commitment to walking? There are a number of fun ways to work walking into your life, whether you enjoy walking on your own or in a group. So what are you waiting for? Lace up your shoes – it’s as easy as taking the first few steps.
Join a Walking Club
If you’re new to regular exercise and enjoy group activities, you may want to consider joining a walking club. The AHA reports that if you have company while you walk, you’ll be more likely to stick with it – and you may find it more enjoyable as well.
Many city parks programs and community centers offer group exercise options. You might also check local gyms and senior centers for their walking club offerings. Once you get into the swing of things, you might want to step it up a notch and try a hiking group. Hiking offers opportunities to explore different terrain (usually off-road on dirt trails) and see new scenery while you’re burning calories through walking.
Plan Time for Family Walks
Walking with family members creates special time together while ensuring everyone gets their exercise for heart health. If walking clubs aren’t your speed, you may enjoy keeping your walks in the family.
Like most family activities, you’ll have a better chance of making your walks a habit if you schedule them. Have your family compare calendars and pick regular walking times that everyone commits to keeping. Even if you can only find a few times during the week or on weekends to walk together, you’ll all be that much closer to your weekly goal of a half-hour per day of exercise.
Walk in the Morning, Afternoon or Evening
There’s more than one way to form a walking habit. If gathering a group together is too logistically challenging, or if you prefer to use your walk for solitude rather than chatting, simply walk out the door on your own and explore your neighborhood.
It's always great to go for a spontaneous walk, but scheduling regular time for your exercise outings can help improve your commitment to walking over time. If you’re an early bird, plan to walk every day before work, or start your weekend mornings off right with a brisk stroll. You might also consider using lunchtime walks as a way to recharge during an afternoon break. Walking after dinner can help you wind down before bed.
Step Up and Out the Door
Walking is an easy form of exercise that can help you decrease your risk of heart disease. All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes and the willingness to try. The best thing about walking is that you can always find a way to fit a quick stroll into your day, even if you have the busiest of schedules. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little further from the door, or take a walking break from watching TV. Before you know it, you’ll be walking your way to a healthier heart – and feeling better each step of the way.