Walking is a great way to get exercise and slowly strengthen all those muscles that hold you upright.
The key to starting a walking program, or any exercise program, is to start slow and allow your muscles to build up strength. Doing too much too soon can aggravate your knees and back if you have weak muscles.
The good news is as you continue to walk your muscles will gain strength to better support your body. Make sure you have good walking shoes or sneakers.
• Start with a 15-minute brisk walk for 3 days.
• Increase your walking time by 5 minutes every three days until you reach your daily walking goal – 30, 40, or 60 minutes.
• While walking, focus on the fact that you are getting outside to move, to strengthen your body, and clear your mind. Allow yourself this time to get away from the pressure of daily life.
• To really calm the mind, try focusing on your breath as you walk, allowing it to anchor you to the present moment. Notice how your body feels with exertion and how your breath changes to meet the demand. Say to yourself "As I breath in I notice (whatever is present with you in that moment)" and "As I breathe out I notice (what ever is present with you at that moment)." Every time your mind wanders, just notice, acknowledge what you were thinking about and gently redirect your focus back to your breath and your present surroundings.You may even want to choose a mantra or a word to focus on such as Peace.
• Try to pick a “green” area to walk through or go for a walk near water. Being in nature calms the mind.
Once you feel comfortable walking for 30-40 minutes, try some of these ideas to strengthen your body:
• Start getting in a good arm swing to mobilize your upper arms and burn some calories.
• Use walking sticks or carry small weights in your hands to help mobilize your upper body and strengthen your arms and back. This will also help improve your core muscles and back posture.