National Walking Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday of April every year. In 2022, it falls on April 6th. Why give so much importance to walking? The benefits of walking speak for themselves. It improves muscle strength, coordination, energy levels, and helps you lose weight. Today, everything is at your fingertips. But sitting all day is seriously not good for you. Every year, the American Heart Association stresses the need for regular walks in the form of National Walking Day. Here’s how you can make the most of it this year.
The Benefits of Walking
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disorders, metabolic disorders, depression, and cognitive impairment. You need to stay active to stay healthy. Walking is a gentle cardio or aerobic exercise that you should add to your routine. Because anaerobic exercise works your heart and lungs to their limits, this helps keep them in shape, improve their endurance, and thus avoid related disorders. It’s not that hard to strengthen your heart. A strong heart equals better circulation, stable blood pressure, and an active mind. Walking lowers blood cholesterol, which prevents high blood pressure and thus reduces the risk of heart attack and other problems.
If you have diabetes, you’re probably aware that exercising can help lower your blood sugar levels. Consider walking if you don’t have the time, space, or energy to complete an exercise routine. After eating, take a short walk, or do it first thing in the morning. Another great benefit of walking is that it can improve your mood. It’s hard to do anything when suffering from mental disorders like depression and anxiety. The key to combating these illnesses is choosing simple and beneficial tasks throughout the day. And walking is one of them.
So, this National Walking Day, make a goal to go on a walk every other day. You cannot enjoy the benefits of walking if you’re not consistent. It doesn’t require any special equipment. You just need some time and a good pair of shoes. It’s also a great way to start your morning exercises. The American Heart Association recommends you walk at least thirty minutes a day. Every step counts. You can also walk more by making wise choices such as taking the stairs, walking to the grocery store, and taking short breaks after every hour of sitting.
Stretching Your Legs and Other Walking Tips
Many people, unfortunately, do not know how to walk properly, which is why they end up getting frustrated after not seeing any results from regular walking. It’s the type of aerobic exercise that people get bored of quickly. But that’s not what it’s supposed to be. Like other aerobic exercises, walking has its tricks and techniques for maximum benefits. Here are some of them:
- Stretch your legs frequently. Muscle soreness discourages many new walkers from continuing. But you can avoid that by incorporating a few leg stretches in your routine. Stretching your legs before and after walking can save you from injury and soreness.
- Maintain the right walking posture. A power walk is defined by good posture. Don’t look at the ground. Keep your head up, back straight, and neck and shoulders relaxed. Let your arms swing. This will allow you to move forward smoothly. Your abdomen should be straight, and you should move in long strides from your heel to your toe. Don’t hunch or curl your shoulders.
- Wear the right shoes. The last thing you want is blisters from shoes that are too tight. Choose a comfortable and strong pair of walking shoes. Your feet will have better support that way. Investing in good shoes will also motivate you to walk more often.
- Take weather and terrain precautions. If you live in the woods or plan on trekking, bring a trekking pole with you. Wear clothes that match the weather you’ll be walking in. Bring an umbrella if you know it’ll rain. But don’t let the weather bring you down. Remember your National Walking Day goal!
- Track your heart rate. You’ll miss out on the benefits of walking if you walk too slow or too fast. To decide your pace, first measure your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Now, keep your target heart rate at 60 to 85% of your HR max.
If walking seems too monotonous or easy, try increasing the intensity by walking uphill. You can also make it a fun cardio workout by doing high knees or butt kicks for thirty seconds, every one and a half minutes. It’s the best cardio exercise for people of all ages.
What to Do on National Walking Day
National Walking Day gives you a chance to try something new, like joining a walking club or race. Yes, there are walking races too. You can also download fun step counting apps that reward you for every goal you accomplish. They can help you track your progress.
You can start National Walking Day by setting realistic walking goals. You might not walk every day at first, but you can build momentum slowly. Don’t force yourself to take the high road immediately. Start slow. Keep it short. Once you get in the habit of walking, increase the length. Ask someone to be your accountability partner, or use a journal. Make a good playlist that you can listen to while walking.
Don’t beat yourself up if you are unable to accomplish those goals. Sometimes life gets in the way. Rearrange your goals frequently according to your schedule. And if you do accomplish those goals, reward yourself. Buy yourself something that will improve your walk, like a comfortable outfit, headphones, a water bottle, etc. Or eat your favorite meal. The reward can be anything that makes you feel happy.
Tell your friends and family about the benefits of walking, how a thirty-minute walk can change their bodies. Teach them the correct posture and the importance of stretching their legs before and after. Join a club and get in touch with fellow cardio workout lovers. This will make your walks more interesting. If you don’t like being around people, that’s alright, you can simply walk your dog.
The American Heart Association introduced National Walking Day to promote healthier lifestyles. Walking is a great way to exercise and boost cardiovascular health. It keeps diseases at bay and makes your body and mind stronger. To gain the benefits of exercising, you must adopt a proper walking posture and pace, remain consistent, and set realistic goals. Once you’re convinced of its miraculous powers, invite your friends to join you on walks. Make it fun!
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