If you haven’t exercised in a while, or are looking for something easy you can do every single day, give walking a try. Walking just may be the perfect low-impact way to exercise, especially for midlife women.
- It’s easy to do for most people, including those of us at midlife and older
- You don’t need any special equipment besides a sturdy pair of shoes
- You can start at any fitness level and adjust your walk to your individual needs
- It has tremendous health benefits!
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If you’re not in the best of shape, start with just a short 10 or 15-minute walk around your neighborhood. Even 5 minutes – or 2 minutes – can be a starting point. Choose the length of time that works comfortably for you and that you can commit to. Build a habit first, and then work to increase your time.
If you’re already in reasonably good shape, walking can still provide an effective workout. Walk quickly, incorporate some intervals (alternating speeds), and add some challenges such as stairs and hills.
How to Start a Walking Program
Starting a walking program is really easy. That’s one reason this is such a great exercise choice. There’s no need for special equipment, a gym membership, or a personal trainer. You don’t even need to change your clothes!
If it’s been quite a while since you’ve exercised in any form, or if you have any sort of chronic illness or injury, you should talk to your doctor before starting a walking routine (or any physical activity, for that matter.)
It’s very likely your doctor will applaud your interest in caring for your health, but you want to be sure you do it in a way that benefits you specifically, and prevents further injury.
Got the “All Clear” from your medical professional?
It’s time to go for a walk!
Put on a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes, and head out the door! Exercise really can be just that simple.
Of course, dress for the weather if you need a jacket, umbrella, or such, but don’t worry about wearing “proper” workout clothing – unless that’s something that motivates you!
Take a couple of minutes to stretch your muscles, particularly those in your calves.
If you are taking a very short walk, you may choose to stay close to home. Walk around the block, or even just to the street corner and back. You have to start somewhere, and small and consistent effort will lead to better results than one long walk that you never repeat, or only do once a week or so.
As you continue your walking routine, you’ll probably want to have some variety in your scenery. Mixing it up keeps you interested and motivated to continue.
Excellent Places to Take a Walk:
- Throughout your neighborhood
- A nearby neighborhood that you’d like to explore
- The main street or shopping district of your town
- A nearby park, especially one with a paved or wide path
- A nature preserve
- A botanical garden
- A bike path
- A beach
- Around a lake or pond
- A shopping mall (great for when the weather is bad)
- On a treadmill
You can even walk in place right in your very own living room.
How to get your steps in at home:
As you’re sitting on the couch at night watching TV, get up during commercial breaks and march in place until your favorite TV show comes back on.
Or march during the show, and take breaks during the commercials.
Or challenge yourself to march in place during the entire show, commercials included.
If you’re using a service like Netflix, make yourself walk in place for 10 minutes in between episodes.
Time will fly while you’re having fun watching TV and moving at the same time.
More Ways to Enjoy Your Walk:
- Mix up your route and walk in different areas of town, or visit different parks
- Invite a friend to come along with you to walk. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to and having a walking buddy keeps you accountable.
- Last but not least, grab your phone and listen to music, audio books, or a podcast as you walk. (Just don’t get so distracted that you don’t pay attention to your surroundings).
- Invest in a Fitbit or other tracking device (or add an app to your phone), and keep a log of how many steps you are taking each day.
- Go to a park that has a walking trail with fitness stations. Take time to do each of the stations during your walk.
- Carry some light handweights to challenge your arms and upper body at the same time.
- Take a 30-day walking challenge. Try to do a little better and go a little farther each day.
The key is to get out there, move around, and get some exercise in a way that’s gentle on your joints, your heart, and the rest of your body. For most people, walking will do all of that and more.
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Final Thoughts on How to Start a Walking Program for Better Health
Give walking a try and see if you don’t start to feel better, happier, and stronger after a few weeks of regular walks. Remember that short walks daily will have a greater overall benefit than one long walk that’s not repeated!
Figure out what motivates you to keep consistent, and do that.
Give it a little time, and you will see big changes to your physical and mental health when you walk every day. You’ll soon realize why walking is the perfect exercise for midlife women.