A walking program is easy to do, needs little equipment and is the simplest of exercise programs to start. In addition to being recommended as part of a total program in controlling high blood pressure, exercise also helps reduce stress, encourages relaxation, reduces weight and obesity, increases circulation and improves self-esteem.
If you’re interested in starting a walking program, a trip to your doctor for a good check-up is a wise decision. If your physician finds nothing to indicate that you should not be exercising, start a simple walking program. Here’s how to get started:
Schedule it on your calendar.
Choose a walking route or place that is safe and enjoyable
Walk with an exercise partner for encouragement and commitment.
Warm up your muscles with with a few calisthenics or by walking for a couple of minutes, then gently stretch before embarking at your regular speed.
Use common sense and listen to your body. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with 10- or 15- minute walks at an average pace the first week. Then, gradually build up to your walking goal by adding 5 minutes to your walk each week and adding more days of walking.
If you push too much one day and end up with sore and achy muscles, rest for the next day or two, then start back at a lesser pace and duration being sure to gently stretch.
5. Follow the FIT principle:
Frequency – at least 3 days per week. Five days a week is even better.
Intensity – target heart rate or perceived exertion of 5 to 6 on a 10 pt scale.
Time – 30 to 60 minutes each session
Exercise immediately after eating
Exercise in adverse weather conditions
Choose an activity that is enjoyable
Warm up with stretching or calisthenics
If you are on certain medications, your heart rate may need to be adjusted by 10 to 15%. Ask your doctor or exercise specialist.
Target Heart Rate Formula
Age-predicted Maximum Heart Rate (APMHR) = 220 minus your age
Minimum Target Heart Rate = APMHR x .6
Maximum Target Heart Rate = APMHR X .8
Perceived Exertion Scale:
1 no exertion
2 very very easy
3 very easy
5 moderately hard
8 very difficult
9 very, very difficult