A Beginner's Walking Plan - The Warm-Up Phase

Spring is here, and you're ready to shed your winter coat! But where do you start when you've been watching Netflix all winter, and the only activity you've done is walk to the door to get your food order? Lace-up your kicks and start #walking! It is one of the most fun and feasible ways to get moving after hibernating all winter.


WHY WALK?


There are many good reasons to begin walking. It's free, so you can't use the "I can't afford it" excuse. It's an easy way to stay active. You can walk when your schedule permits. And most importantly, the CDC says walking helps reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. All you have to do is walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to reduce those health risks and other nasty health issues that can make your life miserable.


GET STARTED ON THE RIGHT FOOT


And the left foot! A properly fitted pair of walking shoes is essential for comfort and gait. Walking shoes should be lightweight but still provide cushioning and support. The soles should be lightweight but still provide cushioning and support. The soles should be flexible enough to twist. Give your feet some love and head to a store that offers free gait analysis and professional fitting.


DON'T WALK THIS WAY


Walking the same route every day is a motivation killer. You'll get bored and lose interest if you walk the same roads every day, and your body gets bored too. Change things up by adding a different route with some gentle inclines or stairs. Switch up the surface and add portions where you're walking on sand, gravel, or dirt. You'll burn a little more calories and strengthen your legs and butt.


LET'S DO THIS


A walking buddy is great for accountability, and it's always a bonus when you partner up with someone who has similar goals. Whether you prefer to walk alone or with friends, start by walking 15 minutes a day, five days a week. Break up the week, so you're not walking five days in a row. The Mayo Clinic suggests walking at a slow pace for the first 5 minutes. This is your warm-up phase. the next five minutes walk at a faster pace but make sure it's comfortable for you. If you can't hold a conversation while feeling out of breath, slow down. The last five of the 15 minutes should be in cool down mode. As you get stronger, try adding another two minutes of #briskwalking each week. By week 12, you'll be up to walking 40 minutes, including the warm-up and cool-down portion.


WALK THIS WAY


Even though you've been walking for years, it's easy to get sloppy and hurt yourself when you're first starting because walking for #fitness requires a more conscious effort than walking in the house or even in the grocery store. First, put your phone away (save for a selfie at the end of your walk), and chat with your walking buddy or take in the scenery. Keep your head high and look forward, with your chin parallel to the ground. Maintain good #posture by keeping your back straight and not arching it forward or backward. Tighten your abs and let your arms swing freely, and as you walk, be mindful of your steps and roll your feet from heel to toe.


SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS


Before you leave the house, grab a water bottle to carry - or better yet, go hands-free and wear a bottle sling or pouch to hold your water, phone, ID, and keys. If you're walking at sunrise or dusk, wear some reflective clothing. It's especially effective if the reflection is bouncing off your moving arms or legs. Finally, don't neglect stretching after your walk. If you're not sure what to do, try online tutorials from professionals.

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