WalkingForget all of those commercials for fancy exercise equipment, killer fitness bootcamps, or dancing-your-way-to-health. These will not work for couch potatoes, at least not at first. You have to think about what you actually can do. Get up off of the couch and walk to the next room. That’s what you need to do. It’s called walking. And … you already know how to do this!
A Walking Program
Embark on a walking program. For four days a week, walk 30 minutes. Do not use a treadmill—go outside. Yes, outdoors. Part of rehab for couch potatoes is getting outside.
If you are physically unable to walk 30 minutes, walk 15 minutes. If you cannot do that, go to your doctor and ask if you are fit enough to start exercising. Even if you just do 5 minutes a day, start.
Take it SlowWhen you start your walking program, do not push yourself. Walk somewhat briskly but do not race around the neighborhood. Do not let yourself get too much out of breath, at least not for the first few weeks. Be gentle with yourself. Your body hasn’t moved like this in a while and there is no point in injuring yourself. Do not worry about how far you are walking or how fast—just put in the time.
Longer WalksOne day a week, you are going to do a longer walk. Take your regular walking time (30 minutes to start, for most) and then add 15 minutes. The next week, add another 15 minutes. By the third week, your “long walk” will be 1 hour and 15 minutes. Meanwhile, keep doing the 30-minute walk four times a week.
RestNow for something a couch potato knows how to do: rest. Rest two days a week. If you must exercise, try doing something other than your usual walk. It is best to schedule one rest day after your “long walk” day, and pick another day to rest, too. Resting helps your body recover.
Good FormLearn good walking form. You already know how to walk, the only trick to endurance walking like this is the arm work. Bend your arms at the elbow so that you are holding your forearms parallel to the ground; lightly clench your hands. Now when you step out with your right foot, swing your left arm back. When you step left, swing back with the right arm. Keep your forearms parallel to the ground and work your arms so they are parallel to each other. Do not let your arms cross in front of your body.
Keep at it
Keep at it. It takes several weeks, but pretty soon you will be walking faster and longer. You will lose weight. You will realize that there is a life you don’t have view from a screen. Keep ramping up your time. Eventually, when your long walk builds to 2 hours, make your short walks 45 minutes. When your long walk hits 3 hours, make your short walks 60 minutes. Then you can stay there … or start to train for a marathon! Yes, you can walk a marathon. More and more marathons are opening up for endurance walkers who can do the 26.2 miles. A really fast walker may actually complete a marathon faster than a slow runner. It takes about 6 months to a year for a total couch potato to train for a marathon, but it can be done!