One Step at a Time Are you looking for a stress-free way to get more exercise in your life? Walking is one of the simplest ways to incorporate physical fitness while reaping numerous life-saving health benefits. The National Institutes of Health advise that walking may have the potential to increase your energy and mood, tone muscles and strengthen bones, burn calories and decrease your chance of conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Lace-up so you can experience these benefits and more.

Know your "WHY"

Understanding your true reason behind healthy choices allows you to develop a plan in line with your personal objectives. Find your goal and a recommended walking plan below, courtesy of Dr. Cori Bauer, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Centers of Evanston. 

Goal

Plan

Effort Level

Improve heart health 30 min. 3 to 4 times per week Breathing hard, difficult to talk
Decrease stress 40 min. 3 to 4 times per week Comfortable pace, able to talk
Weight loss 45-60 min. 5 times per week   Mid-pace, challenged but can talk

The right equipment

With walking, it's all about the shoes. "Good shoes are part of our foundation," says Dr. Cori. "Too often, we wear them well past their expiration date." Make sure yours are pavement-ready by analyzing their current health. Are there wear patterns on the bottoms? Think of your shoe tread as you would the tires on your car. Worn patches and flat areas mean less support for you. Dr. Cori recommends replacing shoes every 500 miles, or every 3 to 6 months, depending on your usage and weight. Extend shoe life further by only using them for walking and keeping them out of the washer and dryer.

Start out right

As you ramp up physical activity, increase your water intake to make sure your body is ready for exercise. Dr. Cori recommends stretching before and after workouts to decrease your injury risk. And remember that every little bit of movement counts. "If you don't have a fitness foundation, start with just 10 minutes." Dr. Cori says. "Add five minutes a day to each walk to slowly build your endurance and reduce the possibility of soreness." Schedule walks at the beginning or end of your day to make them part of your routine.

Stay on track

You are your best coach when it comes to keeping walks consistent. Train yourself to think of exercise as a privilege, not a chore. "And don't judge yourself against others," Dr. Cori says. "It can be self-defeating to compare yourself to people with different fitness goals and backgrounds." Keep motivation high by making exercise convenient. Break walks up throughout the day if you're short on time, keep workout clothes in your car, and write your walks into your calendar to be sure they're not skipped. Before you know it, your body will crave your new healthy habit!