My suggestion for getting started is almost always the same. Keep it simple, keep it practical, keep it convenient, keep it realistic, keep it specific, and don't try to make up for years of inactivity all at once. Select any activity and amount of time where the probability of sticking with it is high. You may not love walking, but if you can do it right outside your door, and it requires no special equipment, and you already know how to do it (you've been walking your entire life!), then walking might be your best bet for getting started because it's so convenient.
Another plan I like is the five-minute out, five-minute back plan. Just like it sounds, you walk for five minutes from your starting point, turn around, and walk back. It's simple and doable for almost everyone. It's a change in your activity behavior even though it's not all that much, and you can increase as you get more used to it. From five minutes you could go to seven and a half out, seven and a half back, a total of 15 minutes just like that. And you can keep your eye on 15 out, 15 back, and there you go meeting the Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes. If you're feeling ambitious, you can add some abdominal crunches and push-ups once you get back. For push-ups, if you can't do a standard one on the floor, modify them by leaning against a wall, leaning against a table, or on your knees on the floor. The lower you go the harder they are. Start with two to three sets of crunches and push-ups, 12-15 repetitions, three to four days a week. As they get easier, you can increase the intensity of crunches by going slower or putting your legs in the air with your knees bent. As push-ups get easier, you can go to the next lower level (for example, from wall to table to on your knees on the floor).
Walking for 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity is great. Walking for a longer period of time is better still. As you get fitter, you will be able to walk more briskly. Walking up and down hills will also help to boost stamina and leg strength. You’ll get even more benefits from a walk if you swing your arms as this helps you walk faster and can burn 5 to 10 percent more kilojoules.
How much good does it do you to get up and walk for a few minutes? Don't be discouraged from walking if you think the number of calories burned is too small. The benefits go beyond burning calories. Simply reducing your sitting time will help keep your muscles, joints, blood circulation, and bones in good working order. By walking more and sitting less throughout the day, you'll burn more calories, reduce your health risks, and do your body good.
"Oxygen consumption" describes the process of muscles extracting, or consuming, oxygen from the blood. Conditioned individuals have higher levels of oxygen consumption than deconditioned individuals ("couch potatoes") due to biological changes in the muscles from chronic exercise training. For example, a deconditioned individual might have a maximal oxygen consumption of 35 milliliters (ml) of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min), whereas an elite athlete may have a maximal oxygen consumption up to 92 ml/kg/min! Values like this are expressed as VO2 (volume of oxygen consumed) and can be measured with special equipment in a laboratory.
“This has all been scientifically proven,” says Hall. “Dr Darren James, research fellow at South Bank University, has done a study showing all this. WalkActive significantly and statistically improves your posture, increases your walking speed by up to 24%, reduces joint impact, joint stress at the knee and at the ankle and improves your body shape.” It is, unmistakably, a fitness programme, as in, you would undertake it for the same reasons as an aerobics class, to lose weight, or at the very least, redistribute it in a more sightly way. I did several 10-minute walks, and while never out of breath, was certainly more tired at the end than I would normally have been.
No matter what pace feels right, listening to your body and completing a proper warm-up and cool-down are all ways to prevent injuries. That way you can spend more time running on the treadmill—and less time running to the doctor.Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 2008, Mar.;37(12):0112-1642.
Can you up those numbers? The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn, no matter the activity—that’s because it takes more energy to move more weight. If you’re specifically looking to up calorie burn, adding a 20-pound weighted vest would up your calorie burn to 8.7 and 15.1 per minute for walking and running, respectively. It’s simple physics: “The majority of calories burned in running [or walking] comes from supporting body weight while moving up and down,” says Hunter. “With more weight, there will be a greater energy cost in doing this due to a greater gravitational force.”