Start a fitness walking program

Prevent disease and premature death with even a modest physical fitness program.

The good news: if you exercise, you can reduce your chance of premature death as much as 35 per cent.

The bad news? If you are inactive, the reverse is also true. Compared with women who are physically active, studies have shown that middle-aged, inactive women have a 52 per cent increase in death from any cause and are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease, according to a report in The Globe and Mail. Inactive women were also found to have a 29 per cent increase in cancer-related death.

(And there’s more bad news: according to a recent review article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, it’s estimated that more than 50 per cent of Canadians are not physically active.)

In study after study, exercise has been found to decrease the risk of getting a chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, certain cancers and premature death from any cause.

If you’re new to exercise, experts advise starting with low-intensity exercise such as short walks or using light weights. As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the intensity of exercise as well as how often and how long you do it.

Start a fitness walking program
Walking is one of the easiest and least expensive forms of exercise. All you need is a sturdy pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothing, and, of course, a healthy dose of motivation.

Here are some tips to start an effective fitness walking program:*

Start slow.
Most people can start out with a brisk 10 minute walk either outside or on a treadmill.

Do this every day for a week. If this was too easy, add five minutes to your walks during week 2. Continue to add 5 minutes to each work out until you are walking as long as desired.

Maintain good posture.
Using good posture you enables you to breathe easier, be more comfortable and avoid back pain.

• Envision yourself standing perfectly straight and tall.

• Do not arch your back or lean forward or backwards. This will put strain on the back muscles.

• Keep your eyes focused forward, not looking down, but rather 20 feet ahead.

• Reduce strain on your neck and back by keeping your chin parallel to the ground.

• Shrug once and let your shoulders fall and relax, with shoulders slightly back.

• Suck in your stomach

• Tuck in your behind – rotate your hip forward slightly. This will keep you from arching your back.

Drink plenty of fluids.
Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of fluids before, during, and after a walk. If you are not sure how much fluid to drink, you can monitor your hydration by weighing yourself before you exercise and then again after. For every pound you lose during the workout you will need to drink 2 cups of fluid to re-hydrate your body.

You can also check the color of your urine. If it is a dark gold color like apple juice, you are dehydrated. If you are well hydrated, the color of your urine will look like pale lemonade.