Does Exercise Feel Like a Chore? Try Walking More.

When I was a child, growing up with few TV channels and many friends in my neighborhood, it seems I was constantly moving. I remember having so much fun playing outside that I couldn’t wait for nice weather and summer break to roll around.

Unfortunately, little by little, I lost what seemed like unlimited time to just play. I think it’s a rite of passage for most of us. We grow up, go to college, begin our careers and raise our families. And most of us move into more and more sedentary lifestyles.

It is now estimated that between 45 and 50 percent of all American adults are inactive. This means that they do not get the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity that the American Heart Association recommends for optimum heart health.

“Exercise” has become a chore. We get so focused on our work that we often sit in desk chairs for 8 – 10 hours per day, with only short breaks.

Over the course of my work life, I have tried many ways to increase my physical activity, from joining a gym, to taking aerobics classes. But it wasn’t until I added a daily walk to my life that I could consistently stick to an activity routine.

Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. It’s a completely free and easy form of exercise.

It turns out that walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. And the reasons for this are simple. It’s a completely free and easy form of exercise. All you have to do is get up, get out and put one foot in front of the other.

To help keep myself on track, I wear an activity tracker. This way I can track my steps and work toward my goal, which is very motivating.

Here are some other great ways to include walking in your daily life:

  • Get out the leash and walk your dog – it’s a great way to spend more time with your best friend.
  • Grab the kids and take a walk – it’s an excellent way to carve out personal time and you can have fun exploring the neighborhood.
  • Don’t let bad weather deter you! Find a mall and walk, window shop, people watch and leave your coat in the car.
  • Walk and talk with your coworkers. Many workplaces have mapped out walking paths so consider scheduling walking meetings.
  • Park and walk. How many times have you circled the parking lot to find “the” spot? Spare yourself the stress by parking further away and building your step count by walking more.
  • Build your steps by taking stairs. The elevator may go up – but it doesn’t make your heart rate climb.
  • Skip the dessert and take a walk after dinner. You’ll get a reward that’s sweeter than cake or pie – more family time.

Beth professional highBeth Langefels is senior director of communications and marketing at the American Heart Association.