When it comes to exercise, it’s no surprise that even with the best intentions, life can get in the way. Work could have you “burning the midnight oil” or you may be exhausted from driving your kids around and running errands, which can make it difficult to squeeze in a dedicated fitness routine. As a parent, trust me, I’ve been there, but being physically fit is not about spending countless hours on the elliptical or any other machine. It’s about embracing an active lifestyle every day and trying to incorporate more movement and activity throughout the day.
That’s why I believe so strongly in what is often viewed as the underdog of exercise – walking. It not only helps to improve your mood, but has been recognized by the American Heart Association as an effective way to lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, increase your energy and even help you sleep better at night.
I find simple ways to weave walking into my busy schedule by doing things like physical activities with my kids—and so can you! There are easy ways to keep moving by incorporating activities into your schedule that naturally fit into your everyday lifestyle. So, while for me it might be playing with my kids, for you it might be something like walking to the bus stop or school instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car farther away from your destination, or taking calls or meetings while walking.
I have used a Fitbit for years to keep myself accountable and a device like Inspire HR lets you track your heart rate so you can get a better sense of your overall health and gauge your progress. It’s a common misconception that running is always more beneficial than walking, but what’s more important is how your heart rate translates into calories burned. While I always tell my clients to strive for at least 10,000 steps a day—or 14,000 if they’re trying to lose weight—I also advise reviewing their heart rate data as they work out to measure intensity. One way to ensure your walk is doing you justice is to walk on an incline, which increases your heart rate and forces your muscles to work harder. If you really want to work up a sweat, try bumping your speed to a brisk walk (about 3 or 4 mph) and walking on an incline to increase your heart rate and burn those calories!
Remember, each step forward brings you closer to progress—and your heart will thank you for it later.
Harley Pasternak is a Fitbit Ambassador and celebrity personal trainer to stars like Robert Downey Jr, Amy Schumer, and Katherine Heigl.
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