Walking may be the easiest way to get your daily dose of exercise. It requires no special equipment except for a good pair of walking shoes. Brisk walking will definitely keep you physically fit, but the benefits do not end there, according to Cyrus Raji, from the Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh. Clocking six miles a week may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and those with Mild Cognitive Impairment, five miles a week may retard the progress of this irreversible disease. This is the result of a long term study based on the walking patterns of a large group of senior citizens, some of them having either Alzheimer’s or MCI, but others without either of the conditions.
Many people who start walking with the best intentions may find it a bit hard to stick to a regular walking schedule. It can also become too routine a workout that the body fails to derive the maximum advantage from it. Here are some ways to perk up your walk to get the most out of it.
1. Keep Changing The Pace
Walking at a brisk pace for half an hour everyday may be sufficient exercise to keep your heart healthy and strong. But as you walk round the block regularly, you may fall into a comfortable rhythm and pace. Going at a steady pace may not be the best way to get a good work out, so make a deliberate effort to change your pace as often as you can. After walking two minutes at very high speed, slow down for the next three minutes. Then pick up speed again or do a short jog for one minute. By the way, a brisk pace is when you find it difficult to talk as you walk.
2. Make It A Whole-Body Workout
Let your upper body join in the exercise by swinging your arms as you walk. The additional effort will not only burn more calories, but also work the chest and shoulder muscles. You can keep your arms at your sides, swinging them forward and backward vigorously as you take each step. Or keep them bent at the elbow, pumping the air as if you are running a race.
3. Change The Trail Often
Walking on uneven terrain is more strenuous than pacing a flat track. A nature trail with hilly outcrops will be a refreshing change for body and mind. Make up for the lack of such an opportunity by walking up and down stairs. Taking the stairs to go up, and the elevator to come down, may reduce the strain on your knees. Walking on loose sand is a very good exercise. If you have access to a beach, take advantage of it at least a few times a week.
4. Set Challenging Goals
Setting yourself goals will help keep you motivated. The goals should be achievable, but not without a slight stretching of your capabilities. In other words, they should be neither too easy, nor too hard. Increasing the speed, number of steps taken, duration of the walk, or distance covered, can be the challenges you set. They should be set at small increments, lifting the bar further as you reach each target. It’s an excellent way to build up stamina.
5. Get A Buddy
Getting a walking companion may prove to be an additional incentive to keep your appointment with the daily workout. You will motivate each other to achieve your personal goals without fail. Make sure that your walking buddy is someone you’re comfortable with. Also take care not to indulge in lengthy discussions that will slow you down and defeat the very purpose of the walk. Walking the same track in opposite directions is very good idea.
6. Pep It With Music
Music can work wonders for your spirit and body alike. Fast numbers can help you go at an equally fast pace. They can literally put a spring in your steps! Listening to music is known to keep fatigue at bay, so that you may spend more time walking, or cover more distance without tiring.
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