Don't underestimate walking! Everyone has to start somewhere and although I started walking just a few minutes a day, it helped me to lose 100lbs - here is the story of how I did it and some information on just why walking is so good for you.
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When you make the decision to get fit, it can be easy to have visions of running your first 10km within the next 2 weeks. But for the majority of people, that is an unrealistic goal and can be pretty disheartening when you realise that isn't going to happen for a while. Walking just doesn't seem enough, but it really is. Don't underestimate the benefits of walking, especially if you are new to exercise.
When I started exercising, at 7st (100lbs) overweight, I would have loved to join all those people I saw running through the park on a Sunday morning. The reality was that I was out of breath just getting up off the chair and walking up stairs left me almost gasping for breath, which is why I avoided stairs at all costs. So, what did I do? I did what I could. Back then, all I could do was walk, but what motivated me was those little walks would enable me to do so much more in the future.
I started off by going for a gentle (by that I mean VERY slow) walk after dinner each night to the end of my road. What started as a snail's pace soon sped up as my breathing got better. Once I had "mastered" walking to the end of my road, I would walk up and down it a couple of times a night. If anyone on the road was watching me, they might have wondered why I just didn't walk further, rather than backwards and forwards, but I was not ready to push myself too far out of my comfort zone. Having suffered from anxiety and severe panic attacks for many years, mainly because of my weight, I always needed to be close to my house in case I needed to get back there quickly and hide myself away.
My confidence grew and I started skipping bus journeys and walking places and then, I actually started enjoying walking. Not only did walking give me much more confidence and improved my fitness levels from 0 (and a couch potato) to looking for new challenges, but it helped me to drop the first 20lbs on the bumpy journey of weight loss. My point is, without walking, I might not be where I am now - happy and healthy.
Walking might not seem like "enough", but it is a start. It is the first step and it is better than no exercise at all. This post is basically to tell all of you that are thinking of starting to exercise that walking IS enough. For now, until you increase your fitness levels.
Here are some of the many benefits of walking:
- It reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering the levels of bad cholesterol and increasing the levels of good cholesterol
- It tones your bum! If you find squats difficult, or your knees are too weak to do them, then try to walk more, as it is great for toning
- It can help to boost vitamin D levels. If you are walking, chances are it is going to be outside (unless you have a very big living room) and that means extra vitamin D (which is difficult to get from your food)
- It makes you happy! I was not a happy person a few years ago. Most days I just didn't want to leave the house. But when I did, and I started walking, the release of all those endorphins made me a much happier person
- It's free! Gym memberships can be expensive, but walking is totally free and you get to enjoy the great outdoors too. If you have kids, you can take them with you - get the whole family active.
This week's challenge as part of my AXA PPP healthcare 52 Little Things challenge is to take an Autumn walk. Make the most of this beautiful time of the year, with the leaves changing colour and take your workout outside. Wear a heart rate monitor too, you will be surprised at how many calories you burn when going on a long walk too.
Are you a fan of walking? How did you start exercising? Leave a comment below.
Take a look at our post on Exercise for Beginners.
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