For those who are physically unfit, becoming fit seems like such a daunting task that they often dismiss it as a personal goal because they don't know where to start. Many believe that in order to become fit one must take up a rigorous sport such as running or cycling or racketball, which is often impossible for someone who is very overweight. If you're not the most flexible of specimens or your endurance for sport can be measured in seconds, you should know that there's a simple activity almost anyone can do that provides great exercise if done regularly: walking.
When starting a walking exercise regimen, you can start slow. Get off the bus or park your car a few blocks from work every day. Leave the car in the driveway when you need to go down the road to the store for milk. Forgo taking the elevator up a handful of floors and use the stairs instead. You'd be surprised at how many opportunities there are for walking in our daily lives that we simply dismiss because it's easier to take an escalator or drive our cars. When added together, many of us can make a fitness regime just out of these simple moments of change.
Walking exercises a variety of different muscles in your arms, legs, and abdomen just like running does, but lacks the hard and punishing stride that often creates foot and back problems in new joggers. Walking at a continuous, vigorous pace also gets your heart and lungs working aerobically without requiring any gym equipment or instructional tapes at all. As you walk more and more, your stamina will increase by degrees, allowing you to walk faster for longer periods of time - perhaps even carrying loads such as shopping bags or backpacks.
Walking can be a solitary or a group activity depending on your preference. Many walkers like to plug in their iPod headphones and walk to the beat, lost in their own thoughts and feelings. Others like to get together with a group of friends and walk around the neighborhood or the local track and catch up on all the latest gossip. Because walking and talking can be done simultaneously, the choice is up to you. You can also walk anywhere, anytime, indoors or outdoors because no special equipment is required to walk.
Most people find that the time they have available for exercise tends to fall in the early morning and evening because of their working hours. As a result many people find themselves out walking in darkness or on roads near their homes. If you walk in a city or at night, you need to take steps to keep yourself safe from cars that may not see you walking along the roadside or from shady characters who may decide that a lone walker is an easy target. For tips on walking safety, gear, locations, and health benefits, check out our store of articles on walking.