This one is pretty simple: Walking can help you live longer.
The research is clear when it comes to the many health benefits offered by a simple daily walk. Decreased risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease are just a few of the more obvious perks you garner when you get out and pound the pavement each day. Indeed, new research out of Germany presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress demonstrates that a 25-minute daily walk at a brisk pace can add upwards of three to seven years to your life.
While most of us understand why getting in regular exercise is important, actually putting that knowledge into practice and finding time to walk each day can be tricky. Work, kids, chores, social obligations and other things often take priority over taking care of ourselves.
Fortunately, research has shown that you don’t need to be a marathon runner or fitness fiend to get the desired benefits of physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity at a moderate intensity five days per week, and 75 minutes of more vigorous activity each week. While this can take some adjustments, it is an achievable amount of exercise for anyone who decides to make it a priority.
If you’re struggling with how to squeeze in that daily walk, consider a few of these tips and tricks to get you to 30 minutes each day.
1. Break Things Up
With a long list of daily responsibilities, it can be hard to find even a 30-minute window to reserve for a walk. That’s why breaking that walk into smaller cruises can be a good approach to getting in the 30-minute total by the end of the day. Maybe you take the dog for a quick 10-minute walk around the block in the morning, you get 10 more minutes in during your lunch break and you put in another 10-minute jaunt while your kids warm up before their soccer game.
Not only is this an efficient way to get exercise, it can also be more effective in eliciting positive health outcomes than one single walk. In fact, research has demonstrated that three separate 10-minute walks throughout the day are more effective in reducing cardiovascular risks than a single 30-minute walking session.
2. Take the Long Way
As a society, we increasingly value convenience: It’s all about getting from Point A to Point B in the least time possible. While that allows us to cram more into each day, it also reduces the amount of physical activity we get. Fortunately, if you’re purposeful about it, taking the long way isn’t rocket science and doesn’t even require a fancy training plan or gym membership. Whether it’s walking to the bathroom on a different floor of your office building, hoofing it to the sandwich shop down the street for a quick lunch or doing loops around the playground while your kids play, there are plenty of ways to rack up that daily step count.
3. Walk and Talk
Phone meetings, interviews, social calls and coffee dates: These are all things that can be done in motion. Rather than convening around a table, why not lace up those walking shoes and have a conversation on the move? Exercise has been shown to boost brain function, so you may even find that you’re sharper than usual during those walking meetings.
4. Partner Up
Not only does research prove that an exercise buddy can help increase our confidence in working out, it also shows that we tend to push harder and longer when we have that moral support. What’s more, having someone waiting for you at the curb each morning also offers an element of accountability, which will help boost adherence to a walking program over time.
5. Always Come Prepared
We often find free moments throughout the day; unfortunately, we’re usually unprepared for them. That’s why having a pair of good walking shoes at the ready at all times is important. Stash a pair under your desk at work or in the trunk of your car. That way, if your child’s music lesson runs over by 20 minutes or that work meeting gets canceled, you can simply throw on your kicks and log some steps.
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