Hello everyone! Many times I hear people say I don’t do cardio because I can’t run. If I try to run I get tired after 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile and have to stop so what’s the point? When I hear these things I think how sad it is that people totally neglect their cardiorespiratory training just because they can’t run far.
There are actually many other ways to get cardio exercise without running. One of the most easiest ways to do it is by simply walking. Walking has a ton of benefits and just about anybody can do it. Most of us have been doing it since we were less than a year old so I’d say we’re pretty good at it :). I’d like to go over some points related to walking and its benefits below.
1– Winter time – If you’re walking in the winter time make sure you wear enough layers to stay warm. Your layers of clothing should be loose to allow your body some ventilation.
2– Summer Time – If it’s summer time wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
3– Hydration – Bring along a bottle of water regardless of whether it’s cold or hot outside. You can become dehydrated in the winter time just as easily as the summer time.
4– Shoes – Shoes are very important so make sure they fit properly. Your shoes should have good arch support and a slightly elevated heel.
5– Inclement Weather – If it’s inclement weather such as rain or snow make sure you have a contingency plan to walk indoors. A few laps around your local mall or a treadmill at home if you have one are good options.
Reasons to Walk
1– Cardiovascular System – Brisk walking can make your heart and circulatory system stronger. It also helps lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels. The National Council on Strength & Fitness did an excellent blog on how walking helps prevent diseases. If you’d like to read the article you can see it here.
2– Joints – Walking is less of an impact to your joints and ligaments. It also strengthens the muscles and bones in your legs, helps improve balance, and also coordination.
3– Stress – Walking releases endorphins in your brain which help reduce stress and make you feel better.
4– Simplicity – As I mentioned earlier walking is one of the simplest activities you can do to exercise. It’s great for new people just starting a walking or workout routine and it’s pretty hard to find any exercise that’s easier.
5– Inexpensive – All you really need for walking is a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothing, and a bottle of water. You don’t have to worry about any expensive equipment.
6– Investment – Walking is an easy investment you can make in yourself. It will also pay huge dividends to your health down the road.
1– Duration – Ideally, you want to work yourself up to at least 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 times a week. If you’re just starting a walking or fitness schedule and you can only go 5 or 10 minutes in the beginning that’s fine. You know your body and you don’t want to overdo it.
Once you get strong enough, you can increase the minutes per outing and do it less often. However, your goal should still be to do it 150 minutes per week.
2– Warm-up – Once you’re able to do at least 30 minutes at a time, the first 5-10 minutes of your walk should be a little slower. This time can be used for a warm-up before you begin the brisk walking. Conversely, when you get toward the end of your walk you can use the last 5 minutes as a cool-down and walk slightly slower.
3– Target Heart Rate – Once you’ve built yourself up to where you can do 20 minutes or more of brisk walking, you should try to hit 60%-70% of your Max Heart Rate for at least 15 minutes. This gives you your Target Heart Rate.
To determine your Max Heart Rate you subtract your age from 220. For example, if your 40 years old, 60%-70% of your Max Heart Rate 180 would fall between 108-126 beats per minute which would be your Target Heart Rate.
4– Speed – You should aim to walk at a speed of about 3-4 mph. One way to gauge if you’re hitting that is with a song test. If you’re able to sing a song without too much difficulty then you should pick up your pace.
Enhance the Experience
1– Music – Many times listening to music can help you increase your speed and rhythm by motivating you with your favorite songs. It can also help reduce boredom if you’re by yourself. However, one note of caution-if you’re in an urban area please remove headphones so you can be more aware of all your surroundings and prevent injury.
2– Walk in a Group – Recruit a friend or two to join you in walking. This way you can encourage each other and have fun at the same time.
3– Weights – You can carry small dumbbells to challenge yourself even more. However, I wouldn’t suggest doing this until you can walk 30 minutes or more briskly without any problems. If you don’t have weights you can also use soup cans or other small objects with weight.
4– Community Events – Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if any organizations have events coming up that involve walks such as a 5 or 10k. These can be a lot of fun and many times it’s easier to get motivated when you’re with a large group.
5– Pets – If you have a dog you can take it on walks with you. This way you and your pet can get exercise at the same time.
Summary – If you’re just starting out in a workout program or simply want to improve your cardiorespiratory system, walking can be a great option. The intensity and impact on your body is less severe than many other exercises.
After you’ve been walking awhile it’ll make it easier to progress up to running if you wish to do so. It’s basically using the approach you have to walk before you can run. The benefits of walking are tremendous and you can definitely be proud and feel good about yourself afterwards.
So when are you going on your next walk? If you have any questions, comments, or would like to tell us about your experiences walking please let me know in the comments section. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful, active day!