I get asked a lot how I got started down my path to living a healthy life, and how I got myself motivated to actually make the change in my lifestyle. Most people make a life change to live healthy after a catastrophic event such as a heart attack or getting emphysema, but fortunately I never experienced this.
I can’t honestly narrow it down to one major thing that caused me to make healthier choices, because to me it was a combination of things like feeling tired all of the time, not being able to catch my breath after a game of basketball with my friends, and just generally feeling lousy. I literally just decided one day that enough was enough and set out to change my life to become healthier.
It was hard getting started and staying motivated as I admittedly am a little lazy when it comes to exercise and fitness, but I found a way to make it easier on myself and it has worked great.
I use the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method when it comes to my daily routine, and it has worked wonders!
I talk more about other items such as diet and what I eat in other posts here, but I wanted to focus this post on how I started my fitness routine. My work out plan has evolved, but in the beginning I started by doing one thing that was easy for me and that I could commit to every single day, walking.
I found that it was easy to convince myself that this was a way I could get started being more active and not have to exert a lot of energy right off the bat. It worked for me, and I think it could work for you too! Ok, enough of this rambling, I will now share with you a walking exercise plan to lose weight.
Why you should do this
By now everyone should know that exercise lives to a longer and healthier life, and it is equally well known that walking is one of the easiest and most beneficial physical activities you can do. I think the American Heart Association summed it up nicely in this brief list.
The benefits don’t end here as studies have shown that people who begin a daily walking routine and stick with it regularly increase activity levels and take up more intense forms of exercise. Go ahead, get started, and walk your way to a healthier life!
Before you walk
Any form of exercise will only be as beneficial as what you put into it, and walking is no exception.
Make sure that you have the right gear so that you find it easy and comfortable to enjoy your daily walk. It will be a lot easier to keep up with your routine if you aren’t dealing with aching feet or chafed and itchy skin due to poor shoes or improper shorts or jogging pants.
You should also take this time to set some goals for yourself. The goals should be realistic and short term so that you can actually achieve them before setting the next round of goals.
Shoes should fit comfortably. Make sure that they aren’t too loose or too tight as either of these will create rubbing and blisters on your heel or ankles. You should also make sure that the sole isn’t too stiff and that the cloth of the shoe is breathable. I am not telling you to go out and spend $200 on a pair of shoes right off the bat (unless you want to). There are perfectly acceptable shoes that you can pick up at Walmart for under $50.
The same goes for your clothing. Make sure that you aren’t wearing any clothing that doesn’t fit you correctly and this goes for outer wear and under wear.
Your clothing protects your skin while you are outside, and it is important to shield you from both the elements and friction of your skin between other parts of your body.
Can you ever remember a time when you have been swimming or got sweaty during a game of golf or basketball and got home later that evening to find that your legs were rubbed raw due to the moisture and friction of your body? This is what I am talking about here. Make sure that you pick out clothing that fits snuggly but not too tight.
I promise you now that if you skip this part and just go out and start walking you will have a drastically higher chance of quitting than someone who actually writes down their goal.
It has been proven time and time again that the human race is a goal oriented species, and exercise goals are no exception to this rule. Take the time and write out your goals, you will thank me for it!
Your goals should be short term and realistic so that you can easily reach them. I recommend something like a 30 day goal of walking every other day for starters.
Once you set AND REACH this goal take note of the confidence boost you get. It will be that much easier to increase your goals every time you reach a milestone.
Setting frequency of days walked in a set period is by far the easiest method of goal setting, but if you are interested in setting goals based on distance or calories burned you might want to check out my review of the fitbit flex. It’s what I use, and I absolutely love it!
The last thing you need to do before you begin your plan is determine your route. If you are on a treadmill or walking on a track this part is pretty simple, but if you will be running out in the real world you want to make sure that you know where you will be going. It is really easy to walk anywhere, but you want to pay special attention to intersections or areas of heavy traffic. Be safe out there!
This is where we get into the actual walking plan.
Everyone is different and have different fitness levels so feel free to adjust to whatever is the most beneficial to you.
I will be providing the plan in a simple list format, and I want to make a special note here. Stretching, warm up, and cool down are very important. Please do your muscles a favor and do this every time you walk!
In the beginning I would shoot for 30 minutes of activity every day or every other day with 20 minutes being actual walking and the other 10 being devoted to stretching, warm up and cool down as I illustrated below.
1. Stretch (2 minutes) – during this time you want to spend some time stretching out your muscles so that you don’t strain them. You can do this by simply standing up straight with a slight bend of the knee and leaning down to try to touch your toes. Don’t force it and hold the position for a count of 30. Next stay standing and spread your feet shoulder width apart and stretch to try to touch your right toes and hold for a count of 30. Do the same for your left toes for a count of 30, and then back to the original position for a count of 30.
2. Warm up (3 minutes) – begin your walk, but walk at a slow and steady pace. During the warm up you are just letting the oxygen and blood start to flow to your muscles and get used to the exercise.
3. Walking (20 minutes) – you are now fully into your walking plan. While you are walking maintain a quicker pace than the warm up and make sure that you are swinging your arms in a constant, deliberate motion. Think mall walking here!
4. Cool down (3 minutes) – you have now finished walking, but you want to give your muscles time to settle from the brisk exercise. You should walk at the same slow and steady pace you used during your warm up.
5. Stretch (2 minutes) – perform the same set of stretches that you did before your walk.
Walk to a new you
There you have it. A plain and simple walking exercise plan to lose weight that you can do easily no matter where you live or what type of equipment you have available to you.
Remember, they key to fitness is setting a goal, developing a routine, and then following your plan. Nothing will happen overnight, and all exercise is something that has to be done repeatedly in order for you to benefit from it.
In order to stay motivated you should change the route that you walk occasionally to get different scenery, and not just give up and scrap your whole plan if you miss a day or two. Everyone will miss the opportunity to exercise occasionally, but those are successful never give up!
If you are having trouble getting motivated to go on your run, just remember the way it makes you feel afterwards!
I would love to hear feedback or questions from you! Please leave a comment below.
Happy running and cheers to your health!