It should be noted that the MET approach was designed to build a classification system of different activities for research purposes - MET values "do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium." (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities)
What I mean by "be specific" pertains to setting exercise plans. Planning is helpful for behavior change, and I suggest that you set goals each week. I suggest writing down what day(s) of the week you'll exercise, what time of day, minutes of activity, location, and the activity that you'll do. Be as specific and realistic as possible, and remember that it's not how much you do when you get started but that you simply get started (getting started is usually the hardest part).
A loose bottom and loose top is the perfect way to feel comfortable and start the journey of “loving” exercise. I think people get “tired” just from trying to squeeze into spandex. Go straight to the clothes you know are most comfortable—clothes you could fall asleep in. You can weave in some spandex as the weeks go on, but for a beginning fitness walker, keep it comfortable.
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It doesn't take all that much aerobic exercise to accrue lots of fitness and health benefits. There are two physical activity recommendations to choose from in the United States. One is the Surgeon General's "lifestyle" recommendation, where you can accumulate activity and incorporate it into your day (a nice way to save time for busy people), and then there's the formal "workout" recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
But just because it isn’t as time- or energy-efficient as running doesn’t mean you should never look to walking as exercise. Whether you’re running or walking, you can reduce your risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improve your cardiovascular health, according to data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study.
Vary your route if you're getting bored. To increase your fitness, add a route with some hills or changes in terrain. Or alternate routes on different days of the week. Keep your workout interesting. Many people walk with a buddy or in groups for support and motivation. While lots of walkers swear by their iPods to keep them going, others prefer to pay extra attention to the sights and sounds around them. Find the solution that keeps you moving.
Observe basic safety while walking outside. Watch for traffic all around you. Always walk on sidewalks or on the left side of the street facing traffic if there is no sidewalk. Carry an ID and a cell phone or change for a pay phone. Use caution if wearing headphones (perhaps use just one earpiece so you can hear traffic and other noises around you). Make yourself visible in low-light situations by wearing reflective gear, such as vests with reflective tape are especially visible.
Fenton preaches consistency over speed. “In seeking consistency,” he says, “it is most important that walking becomes a regular habit, not something you do on the weekends or when the weather is good. The fitness walker must make a positive commitment to exercise a certain number of days a week over a specific distance or length of time, even if some of those days show fairly modest efforts.” He suggests that easier days can be used when other duties demand your time.
Getting blood pumping around your system and raising your heart rate provides a perfect workout for your heart and circulation system, and regular walks can even reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Through lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the bad cholesterol) and increasing levels of its high-density alternative (HDL, the good cholesterol), you can keep your blood pressure in check. And by helping prevent and control high blood pressure you can reduce your risk of a stroke.
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.