Walking is the easiest form of exercise to stick with, says the American Heart Association. Here are a 5 tips to put your best foot forward this Healthy Monday:
1. Get good shoes.
Nothing can kill your motivation to exercise like blisters or sore arches. But before you run out and spend hundreds of dollars on designer shoes, check your closet. Most beginning walkers (or joggers) don't need to buy new shoes, say the editors of Runner's World magazine. Any comfortable, properly fitting pair of cross-trainers or sneakers will work, they say. However, if you find yourself without even an old beat-up pair, make sure to buy shoes that fit both your foot and your body size. The editors at Runner's World can help you find the right walking shoes and other gear you might need to stay on track.
2. Map out your route.
A nearby park or walking trail can do double duty, providing you with a safe place to walk while also giving you a nature fix, which has been shown to lower stress and keep you happy. If there's no park nearby, use Google Maps, which now has a walking feature, to plan your route, or consult the U.S. Track and Field Association's America's Running Routes tool. Though designed for runners, you can map out your own walking route or even find one that other walkers have tried and liked.
3. Make it entertaining.
4. Stretch afterward.
Hopefully, you were able to recruit a friend or coworker to join you on your Monday Mile. If not, make sure you bring along some good exercise music to keep you moving at a quick tempo. To walk at a pace of four to five miles per hour, it helps to have music with about 120 to 135 beats per minute. Or just find a song with a fast chorus and a slower verse so you can do some interval training during your walk.
Conventional wisdom used to state that stretching before and after your workout was necessary. But now, exercise physiologists agree that just stretching afterwards will help you maintain flexibility without hurting your muscles. Try these stretching exercises after each walk, holding each one for 20 to 30 seconds.
5. Find other ways to move.
Even for regular exercisers, sitting for prolonged periods can encourage weight gain and lead to problems like blood clots in the legs. Try moving around for 10 minutes every hour throughout your day, whether it's simply standing up while you talk on the phone, walking up and down the stairs for a few minutes to clear your head, or delivering a message to a colleague on foot rather than sending them an email.
The Healthy Monday Campaign is a nonprofit collaboration between Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.