I wrote a post about how to get 10,000 steps and the questions came pouring in: What about those of us who are starting from scratch due to health issues? What's the best time to walk? How long should I go on the first walk? Should I walk according to the clock or how I feel? How much should I increase my walking time? Should I add time every new week? We aren't all at the same fitness levels, and some of us are just starting our journeys while others have been following Weight Watchers for years. Let's talk about how to get moving again – or how to get started moving if you are new to losing weight and fitness!
How to Get Moving Again
So you want to get moving again but don't know how to start and you don't want to hurt yourself. Do you have health issues that limit your mobility? When is the best time to walk? It's okay to have questions, we all do, but don't get overwhelmed!
Do you have health issues that limit your mobility?
Okay, so you want to move and you have a few health issues. Your doctor says moving will help but you don't know how to get started. First, balance is an important key to getting moving again.
Whether you need help from a cane, walker or a railing, make sure you are safe before you start walking and moving around. Make sure that you have what you need to keep your balance. Even if you're moving slowly, you're moving more than you would be if you sat on the couch. Take a few steps at a time; start by walking around the house more or parking a few spots farther away than you usually would.
When is the best time to walk?
Okay, you have your balance items in place and you are ready to go, but when do you walk? Morning, noon, night time? When is the best time to go for a walk?
I always recommend going for a walk when you feel the urge. The studies I have read differ on when the absolute best time to exercise is. I like to go in the morning, as a brisk walk or a trip to the gym wakes me up and gets my day going. My girlfriend (she blogs about Weight Watchers too!) likes to workout before bed as it tires her out and gets her to sleep easier.
So is there a best time to walk? Yes! Any time you feel like going! Try a few different scenarios out and see what works best for you.
Set a goal!
What are you walking for, distance or speed? Do you want to walk faster or further? It is important to decide your goal for walking, but you can do both!
I recommend doing both over time to increase your cardio health as well as your strength. An example to start is to set a short-term goal of getting to the corner in 10 minutes. Every day for the first week, walk to the corner using warm-up and cool down techniques and time yourself. Once you have reached your goal then go a little farther. The second week, walk to the end of the next block. Take it easy and build up to walking around the block one week at a time.
How long should my first walk be?
You have your balance together and the time you want to walk, now how far should you go or how long should you walk? What should you do before and after you walk? These are all great questions!
Start out by warming up with a five-minute, slower paced walk. Complete your walk. Then, slow your pace to cool down during the last five minutes of your walk. Start at a pace that's comfortable for you, then gradually pick up speed as you are able.
So now you have your warm-up handled, how far are you going to go or are you walking for time? I recommend a combination of both. Set a goal for how far you want to go and how long you want to take to get there. An example is by the end of the month you want to be able to walk around the block in 10-15 minutes.
- Start out walking to the corner and time yourself to see how long it takes to get there. This may be as far as you can walk in the beginning and that's okay it is a start and an important step in judging your goal and how you are going to meet it. Let's say it takes ten minutes to get there. your warm up was 5 minutes and you walked a little faster for the remaining 5 minutes. Take a break if you need it! Now, back to the house or your starting point after you have walked for 5 minutes going back start your cool down.
- For the next week walk to the same corner every day following the same warm up and cool down process. as you do this you will notice that you arrive at the corner a little bit sooner. This may take a few days or even the whole week to accomplish don't give up. Getting out and moving this first week will help your heart and lungs get used to the extra exercise and your legs and back muscles will be sore but also getting used to moving a bit more than usual. Do this for 3 days Monday, Wednesday and Friday with break days in between.
- The days you are not walking you need to rest so those muscles recover. You will be sore so be ready with an Epsom Salt bath or a Sore Muscle Body Scrub to use for easing those sore muscles. An all natural salve of your choice is another great option to add for rubbing into sore muscles. You know what works best for you but get one ahead of time.
Should I walk according to the clock or how I feel?
So far I have focused on walking for a time. I like focusing on the time personally as this helps me to get to my destination faster. Your goal may be to walk farther not necessarily faster. So as you are making your goals decide if you want to go faster or further.
If your goal is to walk faster I have described how to do that above. Now to walk further just increase your distance over time. As I described briefly above as you begin to feel better and start achieving your time goals set new ones for a further distance. An example of this would be walking to the next corner in 20 minutes. So now you get to the first corner in 10 minutes and the second corner in 20. your end goal is to walk all the way around the block in 40 minutes or less.
You ultimate results will be a healthier stronger more cardio and heart healthy YOU!
Should I add time every new week?
Here is the rule I use for adding time to my walks or weight to my workout regime. I only add when I feel comfortable at what I am doing and it is no longer a struggle for me to accomplish. This way I am not pushing myself too hard and risk hurting myself trying to get better.
Exercise of any kind should challenge you and your body. It should not hurt! If you are hurting and cannot get up the next day you may have done to much and should back off a bit until you work up to that level. Remember we are getting healthier a little at a time not all at once.
There is no one way to get moving or keep moving, You have to motivate yourself or get an accountability partner and do it together. There are several resources on the internet that will tell you different ways to do things or have a set amount of time or distance you should go. These resources rarely take into account the people who are just getting started or have mobility issues already, so keep that in mind.
This post aims to help you get going and get to the point where you can use the other resources that are available. We all have to start somewhere today is the day you can get started on your journey to a healthier happier you! According to the Mayo Clinic you should get up to 40 minutes of walking a day including your warm up and cool down periods. Begin today and you can reach your goals.