by Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension
Good health includes not only healthy eating, but also healthy exercise. In fact, you can walk yourself to good health with a brisk 30- to 40-minute walk every day. And the best part is, it’s easy. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes!
Besides making you healthier, exercise such as walking has been show to:
- Boost your metabolism and help control your appetite.
- Improve your self-confidence and mental alertness.
- Provide stress relief.
- Reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Give you an energy boost throughout the day.
- Help you have a good night’s sleep (but avoid exercising right before bed if you want to fall asleep quickly).
So why wouldn’t you exercise daily?
An easy way to reach your goals is to keep track of your activity. For example, if you like to walk, track your steps with a pedometer. Set a starting goal of 2,000 steps a day, which is about a mile. Over time, work up to 10,000 steps, or about five miles, each day. Walking every day can help you look better, feel better, and add years to your life.
To get started, simply clip the pedometer onto your waistband directly in line with your knees. Do not put the pedometer on your shoes or other clothing. Set the counter to zero at the beginning of each day. Wear it from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night.
Take others along!
- How often do you get to see your neighbors? Invite them to go along and you’ll be sure to see them more. And they’ll likely enjoy the exercise, too!
- Are your kids bouncing off the walls? Go for a hike and explore the outdoors. You can find new ways to communicate with the family and be a positive exercise role model.
- Is your dog looking a little hefty? Fido needs to stretch his muscles too, so be sure to take him along.
Just like an important appointment, schedule time for a walk or other activity. Set some goals and reward yourself when you meet them.
- How about a massage when you reach your first 50,000 steps?
- Try on new clothes when your old ones are too big.
- Go to a movie when you’ve exercised every day you planned to be active.
A regular exercise routine will help keep you healthier throughout your life. The best part is, it’s never too late to start. However, you should check with a medical professional before beginning a new exercise program.
Remember, if you eat, move your feet!