Habits for Good Health
We all know that a healthy diet is only part of the equation for weight loss and good health. Exercise is another really important part. It is possible to lose weight without exercising but if we want to be in good health, we have to build exercise into our daily routine. This is a huge challenge for those of us who have never exercised, even as children. I can think of million thinks I’d rather do than exercise. But I know that I will not reach the goals I’ve set for myself if I don’t find some way of increasing my physical activity. Some of you may have heard of the bestseller Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. These authors argue that “exercise is the great key to aging” and that we need to exercise 6 days a week for the rest of our life if we want to have a good quality of life into old age and to be able to carry out every day tasks.
So, how do we do from doing nothing to exercising 6 days a week? Gradually! We need to start with something that is easy to do, that is safe and that does not require any special skills. Only one form of exercise fits this bill – walking. Start by walking around the block and gradually increase you walking time. Be sure to get a good pair of walking shoes and to stretch before and after your walk to avoid sore muscles and injuries. Find a walking partner. This makes getting out of the house easier, keeps you motivated and makes your walks more enjoyable. One of the great ways to get started is to register for a walking clinic offered by the Running Room. Sign up for their Fitness Walk program, then move up to their 5 km Walk program. Before you know it, you’ll be walking 10 kilometres and perhaps even a half marathon!
I started walking in early fall with a partner I found through Kijiji. We built up to 5 kilometres in no time. I was just beginning to see the results when I had to stop walking because of problems with my IT band (I’ll be discussing this in a future blog). I developed this problem, which can be quite painful, because I did not stretch before and after my walks. Although walking is the most natural form of exercise there is, we still need to stretch, warm-up and cool down to avoid injuries.
Walking is the perfect way to ease into an exercise program. It provides many of the same benefits as running and is easier on the body. So let’s put on our walking shoes and head outdoors for that walk around the block or around the neighbourhood!
Walking is man’s best medicine.