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How to start a walking routine

How to start a walking routine
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Sometimes exercise is the last thing you feel like doing some days. While it can be hard to find the time to lace up your shoes and walk a kilometre or even around the block, exercise can almost always do your body and mind some serious good, even if you’re not feeling up to it. “There is evidence that people who exercise receive mental health benefits and also seem to respond better to stress,” says Melissa Markofski, PhD, assistant professor, of the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston. Here’s how to motivate yourself to start a walking routine.

Stroll outside, with friends

Stroll outside, with friends
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As long as you practice social distancing, physical activity can help you get through these stressful times. “One of the benefits of walking with a person or a group is that it can be easier to show up if there is someone waiting for us,” says Markofski. “Many people find they get benefits from the social aspects of group exercise – making connections with people doing the same activity as us.” Exercise like walking also strengthens muscles and bones, increases energy and improves cardiovascular fitness and brain function. According to a 2019 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with physical activities can even extend your life.

Here are 10 things that happen to your body when you start walking 10,000 steps a day. 

Boost the intensity

Boost the intensity
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Upping your walking pace from slow to moderate can increase your kilojoule burn and boost the health benefits, says physical therapist Alison Chang. There are several ways to do that. First, try the “talk test,” she says: “If you can talk but not sing [while walking], you are engaged in moderate-intensity activity.” To rev up your metabolism, try alternating between 100 and 130 steps per minute to take advantage of the benefits of interval training and burn more kilojoules. “Be mindful of your posture and practice diaphragmatic breathing during brisk walking to further enhance the cardiopulmonary benefits of fitness walking,” she adds.

Bring your pooch

Bring your pooch
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People tend to talk each other out of workouts, but dogs are always up for a stroll. And you both gain big health benefits: Dog owners are generally more active than non-owners, and may even be mentally and physically healthier, according to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. If you’re thinking of getting a dog in the hopes of becoming more active, research on dog/owner behaviour in the journal BMC Veterinary Research suggests that you’re likely to take a big dog out more frequently than a small one – making it easy to start a regular walking routine. And the more Fido tries to jump on the furniture the more incentivised you will be to take him outside.

Learn how to bust those exercise excuses. 

Use a bad mood as motivation

Use a bad mood as motivation
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Walking can impact your mood, according to the National Institutes of Health. It boosts levels of feel-good substances in the brain, and you don’t have to get out there and sweat to get the benefits. Just focus on moving, even if that means taking a walk around the block. If you’re bored by your typical exercise routine, grab a pal and get outside.

Here are more mood-boosting secrets to a happier life. 

Reaching for a cookie? Lace-up your shoes instead

Reaching for a cookie? Lace-up your shoes instead
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People who walked or did other forms of exercise had less of an appetite for unhealthy foods, including sweets, according to a 2018 study in the journal Nutrients. Walking may be particularly helpful in avoiding stress eating.

Skip the lollies and soft drink when you’re feeling anxious, and instead try these 11 foods to help manage stress.

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Head out after a meal

Head out after a meal
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A quick post-meal walk helps clear sugar from the blood, preventing spikes that can take a toll on people with diabetes or who are at risk of developing it. This form of fitness is ideal even for those with diabetes or other health conditions, says Chang. “Walking may seem simple, but it is an excellent form of exercise and provides multiple physical and psychological benefits regardless of age or health condition,” she says. “It is highly accessible given that it requires little to no equipment.”

Put your phone away

Put your phone away
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You can’t get the benefits of walking if you get hit by a car! Thousands of people are sent to the emergency room for injuries related to using a mobile phone while walking – and that number’s going up. And it’s likely a gross underestimate of injuries since not all people who are hurt go to the ER. Tempted to text or sneak a peek at your email? Just don’t. You’ll walk faster without it anyway!

Here are more ways your mobile phone affects your body and mind. 

Use a tracker for motivation

Use a tracker for motivation
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Wearing a Fitbit or checking your Apple Health app won’t make you walk more – but it could help, according to a 2020 report in Digital Health. The study of 81 people who used a tracker to manage their exercise found that 66 percent of participants reported an increase in their exercise habits after owning their device, and most planned to start exercising at least three days a week.

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Source: RD.com

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