Long before automatic transmission, remote controls, and home delivery pizza, there was walking. People walked to to get somewhere and to do things – around their houses, land, and towns. Even if you don’t have to walk much in day-to-day activities, it’s a good thing to do anyway, a skill you don’t want to lose.
Walking is one of the best ways to ease into a regular exercise program to keep moving even when you’re older or overweight, and to stay fit. A daily walkng program is the cornerstone of a healthy lifstyle for many people, young and old.
Just about anyone can walk, although some may need help at first. If you haven’t exercised in years, it’s wise to first see your doctor to see what he recommends and any limitations he may suggest. If you have risk factors for or symptoms of coronary disease, such as chest pain or shortness of breath when you walk, an exercise stress test is in order. If you’re more than 50 pounds overweight, to spare your joints, use an exercise bike rather than walk, until your weight is within 30 pounds of normal.
You may not be able to get into a doctor prescribed exercise program if you have risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or being overweight. Such a program can get you off safely. Lots of community centers have programs for seniors, so you might check at your local YMCA or Jewish community center.
Walking will cost you the price of a pair of decent sneakers – $55 to $75. If you decide on a treadmill, it’s worth investing in a good one, which you can get for about $600 if you weight less than 200 pounds. (Heavier people will need to pay more for sturdier models.) If you decide on instruction, you can find a walking coach by contacting the North American Racewalking Foundation.
Over time, walking should produce stronger muscles in your lower body, less lower-back pain, more flexible joints, improved mood, better sleep, improved immunity, and better overall health. You can’t get all that in a bottle at any price.