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Starting a walking program

When first starting your exercise program after your surgery, remember that some form of daily motion is better than "working out." The first 4-6 weeks after your surgery are your healing period, so take it easy on yourself in the beginning.

One of the best ways to start being more active is to start a regular walking program. Walking is free and easy and you can do it anywhere. According to the American Heart Association, walking also has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise. Even if you are strapped for time, a 10-minute daily walk can help you burn calories and boost your energy level.

Here are some tips for getting started with a regular walking program:

  • Find a walking buddy. Exercise routines are usually more successful when done with a partner. Walking with a friend will give you a chance to spend time together and catch up while holding each other accountable to your exercise goals.
  • Walk early in the morning or later in the evening when it's cooler out. Or take a break during the day and get away from your desk by taking a walk around the block. Studies show that people who are physically active during the day are more productive at work and get along better with their co-workers.
  • Take your dog ... or if you don't have one, take the neighbor's dog. You could even start a dog-walking business on the side and earn some extra cash.
  • Vary your routine. Use the opportunity to explore different areas around town.
  • Increase your intensity and duration as things become easier. In the beginning, you may only be able to walk a quarter of a mile before feeling fatigued, but after a while, walking several miles will be easy. Start choosing paths with moderate hills, or carrying 3-5 pound weights while you walk so you can also do bicep curls.
  • Keep track of your mileage and time on a daily walking log so you can monitor your progress.
  • If you listen to music while you walk, keep the volume down and be extra mindful of traffic.
  • If you experience pain in your joints, hips, or back, discontinue your walking program and talk to your doctor. Better shoes may help relieve discomfort, or you may want to switch to a no-impact form of exercise such as cycling.
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