Walking can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. It can lower your risk for heart disease, osteoporosis (disease of the bones), blood pressure and other diseases. Walking can help you lose weight and keep it off. Do these comments about the power of walking sound like a broken record?
They may. America on the Move, a group that promotes walking, found that two out of three American adults don’t even get 30 minutes a day of physical activity. And, one-fourth of American adults aren’t active at all.
You may know it’s a wise health move to walk more. You may have even tried to start a walking program in the past. But it’s hard to start and even harder to keep going. The key to success is to take it one step at a time.
Research shows that if you walk an extra 2,000 steps a day, and eat 100 fewer calories a day, this can help you prevent weight gain and even help you lose weight.
Research also shows that you can prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes if you lose a small amount of your weight through healthy eating and are also active 30 minutes a day on most days. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, all you need to do is lose 10 pounds to improve your health. Walking is one great way to stay active.
Once you start to take more steps in your daily life, you can add even more steps. Take longer walks or take two or three short walks a day instead of one. Work your way up to a total of 30 minutes of walking on most days. Three ten-minute walks are as good as one 30-minute walk.
Set your goals based on the number of steps you take when you start. For your first goal, choose a number of steps to add each day. For instance, if you tend to take about 2,000 steps a day, add an extra 500 steps. Those extra steps will take only about 5 more minutes to do. That’s not too hard. Then, after a few days, add 500 more steps, or walk for 5 more minutes. Pretty soon you’ll be up to the 30 minutes a day most days, which is what the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) guidelines suggest. A good way to keep track of the steps you take is with a pedometer, which is also called a step counter.
BEYOND STREETS AND SIDEWALKS
The cheapest places to walk are city streets and sidewalks. But if this is not an option, try these:
- Walk around your house. You can go through several rooms or simply walk in place. Watch TV or listen to music to help pass the time. If you walk during a TV program you watch on most days, this may help remind you to move.
- Join a mall walking program. Some malls around the country offer walking programs. Sometimes the malls open early and even have a walking leader. Contact the malls in your area.
- Visit a school track. Most high schools have an outdoor track you can use.
- Join a local hospital or county program. Check out if your local hospital or county athletic programs offer a walking program or have a fitness center with machines or a track.
- Use a treadmill. Buy a new or used treadmill. Put it in a place that makes it easy for you to use.
ON THE MOVE
Once you get started, keep yourself motivated. One way is to walk with a friend. Websites can also offer support. Check out:
- American on the Move – http://www.americaonthemove.org
- The American Heart Association’s Start Walking Now – http://www.startwalkingnow.org, or
- Learn how to start your own walking program at AARP’s Create the Good: Start a Walking Group – http://createthegood.org/toolkit/start-walkinggroup
Walk more to reach your step, weight and health goals.
STEP IT UP WITH A PEDOMETER
A pedometer is a device that counts the steps you take while you walk or move. It responds to your movements. pedometers also measure distance, time or the number of calories you burn. Pedometers help you stay motivated because they tell you your progress each day. You can buy a pedometer at your local Costco pharmacy or online. Ask your Costco pharmacist to help you pick one. Keep in mind that the main goal is to count your steps, and keep moving.
By Joy Pape MSN RN FNP CDE WOCN CFCN FAADE