Ditch the excuses: It's time to get walking

If you’re looking for a simple and cheap way to stay fit and healthy as you age, walking could be just what the doctor ordered.

I’m too tired to exercise.
I can’t afford to join a gym.
I haven’t exercised in ages and I don’t know where to start.
I just washed my hair.

Sound familiar?
If you’ve used any of these excuses to avoid getting fit, it’s time to change your tune. There’s an easy solution to your exercise woes – and it doesn’t involve strenuous workouts or purchasing costly indoor gym equipment.
Walking is gentle on the body and a great way to ease back into exercise after you’ve had a break.
Walking is also one of the most inexpensive ways to keep fit – and it’s incredibly social. It gives you the chance to explore your neighbourhood, discover new areas and say hello to people in your community – all while burning energy (calories or kilojoules) and working up a mild sweat.

Stay on track

Get motivated to walk by writing down the excuses you use when you’re avoiding exercise, and consider some alternatives to help overcome your block.

Here are a few to get you started:
  • It’s too dark in the mornings: If you hate exercising in the dark, take your runners to work and go for a walk at lunchtime. Or walk with your partner at the end of the day and use the time to catch up and reconnect.
  • I get bored walking the same route: Craving variety? Investigate nearby bushwalks or try different routes. Walking can be social, so consider walking with friends, or joining a local walking club.
  • I don’t know how to begin: Overwhelmed by the thought of getting started? Having a destination and a purpose – like buying milk or meeting friends for coffee – is a great way to fit a walk into your existing routine.
  • I’m tired and don’t have any energy to go for a walk: You don’t have to start with 30-minute walks. Begin with short 10-minute walks around the block, and stop for breaks. Incremental increases in your daily routine can be slowly adjusted over time to hit longer walking sessions.
  • I don’t have time: If you’re time-poor due to work commitments, family or the general multitude of tasks awaiting your attention, a short walk can be great for a timeout. It’s also quality ‘me’ time. Think of your walk as an opportunity to clear your head while adding minutes of exercise to your daily routine.

Don’t excuse your health

Getting fit and keeping active is essential for maintaining long-term health and well-being, and walking is also associated with a reduced risk of preventable diseases. Research has found that regular walking can help to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
Walking may also help lift your mood and improve sleep patterns through the production of chemicals in the brain including endorphins and serotonin. Studies indicate exercise may ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
Also, the more you walk, the better your health will be as you age.  It may help protect against dementia by improving blood flow to the brain, and helps build muscle and bone for a stronger body into your later years. It’s also been found that walking just 15 minutes a day can extend your life by as much as three years. 

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