Turn on the TV at pretty much any time day or night, and you will see numerous commercials for the latest guaranteed get-fit plan or device. Guaranteed to burn off the extra pounds in less than 90 days for the low low price of only $19.95. Granted most of these are fly by night operations (how many AbFlexes or Ab Blasters from the early 90’s are still around today?).
I won’t even discuss the so-call miracle diets where you can eat whatever you wish and still watch the weight fall off. There are just no short cuts for getting in shape, either be prepared to part with some sweat or forget it.
That said, you don’t have to sweat a LOT to get the job done. Out of all the exercise programs out there, the single most effective way to get yourself in better shape is by simply putting one foot in front of the other.
Yes, that’s right children, walking. Nothing beats just getting out and putting yourself in motion for a half hour or so every day. Don’t believe me? Well, consider: I went to college for four years in a small town where our cars stayed parked for most of the week and we walked everywhere we went. A year after graduation I was sporting a tummy that made me look six months gone with a lawn mower…..all because my lifestyle went from “Come on, guys, it’s just a stroll across town!” to a more leisurely “Honey, have you seen that remote? Oh and while yer up, get me a sammich!”
Walking is one of the most simple and effective ways to lose weight, remain in shape, and maintain your general good health. Walking at a brisk pace for a period of 20 to 30 minutes three times a week increases the oxygen intake to your blood and strengthens your heart. It also improves your blood circulation and decreases blood pressure (which for some of us is a major blessing).
You can also burn up to 100 calories per mile. There are other ways to burn off a similar number of calories in a fairly short time, but knowing that kids might be reading this, I believe I shall postpone.
Walking also slows down and holds off problems such as arthritis and joint diseases, as well a building stronger bone structure to reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis developing. If you fear becoming a hunched over old man as much as I do, this is good news.
I would also mention that walking helps relieve both constipation and menstrual pain, but I don’t think we need to go any further than that.
I will go on to say though that walking helps you sleep better, releasing endorphins that are a natural tranquilizer, reduces the risk of breast cancer, and increases overall energy levels.
If you’re a cheapskate like me, it also means that you do not have to buy a lot of expensive equipment, just a comfortable pair of walking shoes. If you can maintain that thrice weekly schedule, replace your shoes every five or six months to ensure the best possible support for your feet.
Walking is also unique from other exercises in that it is actually social…you can do your walking with family, or a friend, groups, actual packs, or whatever suits you. And anybody can do it, because it does not require a special ability or drive. We all walk every day; it is just a matter of making it a priority.
Walking is not hampered by weather. You can go outside on pretty days, and if it is raining, you can go to a mall or indoor track. Many shopping malls have early bird hours for folks who want to come in wand walk before the shops open for business.
So get out and walk, I’m right behind you…..as soon as somebody helps me out of this chair…..