Building walking into your life is really quite simple and can be done in a variety of ways. One convenient method is by turning everyday errands and chores into opportunities to walk.
Taking your dog for a brisk, 30-minute walk, for instance, can provide both you and your pet with a hearty workout. If you need to take clothes to the dry cleaner, try choosing one that's a mile or two from your home and walk the distance instead of driving.
If you have a baby at home, break out the baby carriage and go for a lengthy, moderately paced stroll that can lull your baby to sleep and give you an aerobic workout. You can even purchase a three-wheeled stroller that's designed for this purpose.
If you need to go to the shopping mall to pick up a few things, try parking at the far end of the lot and walking to the door -- or better yet, choose a mall that's within walking distance and leave your car at home.
Once you're inside, take a quick trip or two up and down the length of the mall before you begin shopping. After you've purchased everything that you need, take another couple of brisk laps around the mall.
If you work sitting at a desk for most of the day, try walking during your lunch hour, as well as to and from work. If you have to attend appointments outside of the office, use them as another chance to walk. Besides, such a work-day break can actually clear your head and buy you a little extra time to mentally prepare for a presentation.
Whether you work on the second floor or the tenth, try walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator to your office. This can help tone the muscles in your legs and buttocks and help you burn calories even if you have only a couple of flights to climb.
If you work on one of the top floors in a skyscraper, try getting off the elevator several floors before yours and take the stairs the rest of the way. Work-site studies have shown that workers who simply began using the stairs instead of elevators and escalators improved their overall physical fitness by 10 to 15 percent.
Even when you have to spend hours at your desk or computer terminal, you can practice an essential part of your walking fitness program. You can do stretches frequently throughout the day to maintain your flexibility. (The more flexible you are, the less chance you'll have of injuring yourself when walking.)
Stretching can also help to relieve tension and give you an energy boost. And you don't need to change clothes or leave your work area to do many of these stretches.
You can do head tilts, shoulder shrugs, leg lifts, and ankle twirls while you're seated. Then, when it comes time for a coffee or restroom break, you can stand up and stretch your legs. Visit a coffee machine or restroom that's on a different floor, so you can use the stairs to get there and back.
If you have to go on a business trip, there's no reason to suspend your walking program. If possible, ask your travel agent to book you into a hotel within walking distance of your appointments. If your travel plans include lengthy layovers at airports, pack your walking shoes and use the extra time to explore your surroundings.
The key to fitting fitness into your schedule is to not take the easy way out and succumb at every opportunity to every time-saving modern invention designed to keep us from walking. The subliminal message we get from being constantly surrounded by all these inventions is that walking is something we should avoid.
But walking is actually good for you and worth incorporating into your life at every opportunity. So the next time you find yourself driving around the parking lot looking for that space up front, think about the benefits of walking. Then head to the far end of the lot, park your car, and take a walk.
Find out how to incorporate walking into your commute in the next section.
To learn more about walking, see: