This series will introduce various ways to get exercise and keep our bodies in motion.

When did aging get such a bad rap?  Aging is a natural, organic progression.  It will happen to all of us, no matter how many advertisers tell us we can stop the hands of time by buying this cream or that serum. What we need to do is appreciate our bodies more and strive for healthy aging.  We cannot stop aging, we cannot reverse the years, but we can stave off many ailments just by moving. We all know that doing puzzles is good for exercising our brains but it is equally important to get up from the couch, push back from the dinner table, take a break from the computer screen or TV and go outside for a walk.

Walking is a perfect aerobic exercise; it encompasses the cardio workout we all need (elevated heart rate) and you can incorporate a bit of strength training too by including ankle weights or carry small dumbbells and naturally swing your arms as you walk. Be sure to wear appropriate shoes, and dress in comfortable, bright clothes to make you easily visible to drivers. If you do walk at dusk or after dark, it is wise to wear a top which has reflective material.

Here are a few suggestions to get the most out of your walking “workouts.”

  • Walk with a buddy.  You will be more likely to stick with it if you commit to walking with someone.  It’s also safer to walk with someone in case something happens.
  • Be sure to stretch for a few minutes before you start walking. This allows your muscles to warm up and you are less likely to have pain or cramps.
  • If you have a dog, walk it! What better way for you and your furry friend to both get some exercise? Walking with your dog helps to foster a very strong bond.  This allows your dog to recognize you as part of his/her pack.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you walk in your neighborhood keep an eye out for a break in the pavement, tree roots, etc.  Many parks have paved walking paths.
  • In bad weather, consider walking at an indoor mall. Don’t allow a rainy day to derail your routine!

When you begin a walking program do not try to make it a 5K from the start.  Remember, we all had to crawl before we could walk.  You can minimize injury and burnout by gradually increasing your distance and time. Depending on your level of fitness, a walk to the end of the block might be a good way to start. And if you are over 45 years of age, do talk with your doctor and let him/her know you want to start walking for fitness.