Walking is one of the fitness activities to get in shape. It is free, simple, and can be done outdoors and indoors. A sports Chiropractor and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Dr. Matt Tanneberg, CSCS, says that walking is nearly as good as a workout, and is better than running. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Tanneberg further added that walking helps you achieve both your weight loss and fitness goals. Walk your way to fitness with the following tips.
What to Prepare
- Have a good pair of lightweight cushioned, supple shoes. Pick shoes with a firm heel, proper arch support, and thick flexible soles to protect your feet and to reduce shock. Wear comfortable socks that fit your feet well. If you have high arch flat feet, buy from a shoe store with well-rounded staff.
- Pick convenient clothes and gear suitable for different kinds of weather. Choose bright clothes or have reflective tape for visibility. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a cap, and wear long sleeves to prevent sunburn.
- Bring a flask of water with you. Drink water before and when you finished walking.
Plan a Routine
- Choose your trail carefully. For outdoor walking, choose even tracks. Don’t walk on trails with potholes, damaged sidewalks, uneven roads, or roads with low-hanging branches.
- Loosen up. Go slow for 5-10 minutes to loosen up your muscles and condition your body. You can do stretches as long as you warm up first. Then, increase your pace.
- Cool down. Walk slowly at the last leg of your walk for 5-10 minutes to relax your muscles.
- Stretch. Lengthen your muscles after you cool down.
Walking exercise requires having a good posture with determined, resolute movements.
- Put your head high and look straight.
- Slacken your neck, shoulders, and back.
- Tighten your stomach slightly. Keep your back straight.
- Sway arms freely and flex your elbows slightly.
- Roll your foot from heel to toe to walk smoothly.
How much should you walk?
- For moderate exercise: Walk 3 miles per hour at most. Do it every week for two and a half hours. Some experts suggest a 30-minute a day walk for five days per week.
- For vigorous exercise: Walk 4.5 miles/hour or on a hilly road. This pace is similar to biking or running. Do it for one hour and 15 minutes every week to improve your health.
Healthy adults are encouraged to finish 10,000 steps throughout the day. Is it attainable? Yes, it is. The secret is to aim for this goal and work your way up to achieve it.
Tip: Keep an exercise journal to record your time and pace for a week. You can record them in a physical activity app, or use a pedometer or fitness tracker. This electronic device calculates your steps and distance. Seeing where you started and your progress will keep you inspired and driven.
- Start with slow steps and increase your pace as go along. Every small step counts, regardless if you are walking inside the house, in the lawn or garden, getting your mail, going to the shop, or walking in the mall.
- Set your schedule and keep it. Treat it like your favorite sitcom or TV series that you must not miss.
- Have a 10-minute power walk if your schedule is full.
- Have a walking buddy. This can be your partner, friend, family member, or coworker. Walking becomes more enjoyable with a walking buddy as you keep each other moving and engaged.
- Listen to music while walking to keep you motivated and your pace stable. Ensure you can still hear other sounds, like traffic, though.
- Walk indoors or in a shopping mall or on a treadmill during bad weather so as not to miss your routine.
- Modify your routes. Walking on the same path can be boring. Plan several different courses for diversity. Keep in mind to walk-in safe, well-lighted areas, especially when walking at night.
Benefits of Walking
- It is free — no joining, annual or subscription fees. You do not need any gym outfit. You can do it anywhere (in your home, garden, mall, parks) and anytime.
- It is a gentle, low-impact exercise making it good for all ages. Even people with extra weight or arthritis can do walking exercises.
- Helps burn calories. The calorie burn will depend on the speed, distance, terrain, and your weight. A calorie calculator will help you determine your real calorie burn.
- Walking is a great energy booster, more effective than a cup of coffee. With the increased oxygen flow, your hormone levels (cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) increase. These hormones are responsible for elevating your energy.
- Strengthens your legs. Walking in a hilly path, routes with stairs, or on a treadmill incline tones your leg muscles even more.
- Restores the heart. A 30-minute walk per day, five days per week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Increase the duration or distance of your walk each day to reduce the risk even more.
- Alleviates joint pain. Walking can help safeguard your joints (knees and hips). It helps in loosening and strengthening the muscles that reinforce your joints. Walk five to six miles per week to help reduce arthritis pain.
- Boosts the immune system. Studies show that moderate pace walking lowers your sick days to about 43%, as well as getting fewer upper respiratory tract infections in general. Walk to strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of getting a cold or flu.
- It enhances your brain. Moderate pace walking increases your heart rate so you breathe deeper. More oxygen goes into your bloodstream during deep breathing. As your heart pumps faster while walking, your circulation increases and brings more oxygen to your brain. Inadequate oxygen in the brain makes you feel distracted or fuzzy. Walking uplifts your self-esteem helps reduce depression and anxiety, as well as indications of social isolation.
- Enhances creativity. Walking helps clear your mind, allowing you to be more creative. Walking in a park or in nature enriches your mood and creativity. Being attuned to nature which is especially great for your mental health.
- Prolongs life. Researchers found that walking helps prolong life. An average walking pace reduces the risk of overall death by 20%.
While walking is a generally safe exercise, there are still unexpected threats. Remember to…
- Have a medical check-up before starting a walking routine or any fitness program, especially if you are a first-time or have not exercised for a long, overweight, or over 40 years old.
- Always check the weather, so you’ll know if it is a good day to walk outdoors or indoors. This also helps you to wear proper clothes and gear.