Ten Tips For Healthy Walking
The benefits of walking
Summer is here, and for many of you, it means a time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Walking is one of the best ways you can do that, and as you will see, walking has many health benefits
Walking is a form of cardiovascular exercise. This means it exercises the heart and blood vessels, and in so doing prevents diseases of your heart, lungs and vascular system. Walking has other benefits:
- Weight loss – the reason most people embark on a walking program.
- Improved appearance – walking recruits all the major muscle groups of the body, toning them and giving you a more sculpted appearance.
- Improved mood – walking improves mood by releasing endorphins (the feel-good hormone). This can fight depression, stress and improve sleep.
- Improved health – in addition to preventing cardiovascular diseases, walking helps to lower blood sugar, prevent osteoporosis and even some cancers.
Doctor knows best
- Before you embark on any exercise program, pay a visit to your doctor. Especially if you haven’t seen him in a while, have a health condition and/or do a sedentary job. Your doctor can advise you on whether it is safe for you to begin walking and how much you can safely do. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/walking-for-wellness
- Stop or slow down if you feel pain, shortness of breath or dizziness. Call your doctor as soon as you can. These may be symptoms of an illness, and you do not want to exacerbate it.
- Do not go walking on an empty stomach or just after a heavy meal. Wait at least one hour after eating and be sure to drink lots of water or fruit drink.
To sum it up
1. See your doctor before you begin your walking program.
2. Begin slowly and gradually increase to a tolerable level. Try to walk 5 days a week.
3. Wear proper footwear and proper clothing for the weather.
4. Warm up before stretching
5. Choose the time of day that's best for you.
6. Do not walk with weights.
How much is too much
4. You do not have to walk one hour on your first day, and you shouldn’t try. Not even on your second day. Maybe not ever. You can achieve the same benefits by walking 10 minutes 3 times a day as if you walked one 30-minute bout. So, if your energy is not up to par and you can only do 10 minutes, then that is what you do until you can increase to 15, then 30.
5. After you have made walking a habit, try increasing your distance or, if you wear a pedometer, the number of steps. You should work up to 5 days a week. Walking your dog daily, or your baby in the stroller, is a good way to keep up your routine. Also, having a partner can be very motivating.
6. When it comes to burning calories, distance trumps speed. In other words, you burn the same number of calories whether you walk or run a mile. A 150-pound man will burn 100 calories whether he walks or runs a mile; if he runs more than a mile, then, of course, he will burn more.
Have the right equipment
7. Some walkers wear a pedometer to measure the amount of steps they have taken. A pedometer is a device worn on the hip or around the wrist. You may even put it in your pocket or purse. There are different types of pedometers:
a. Spring-level pedometer - the oldest type. It's worn on the hip, but it's not recommended if your waist is large, or if you walk slowly, as the reading may not be accurate.
b. An accelerator pedometer senses movement and can be carried in your pocket or purse.
c. Pedometer wristband - measures steps, distance, calories burned and even your heart rate.
The good thing about a pedometer is that it motivates you to take more steps, and taking more steps burns more calories.
8. Wear proper footwear. There are as many types of walking shoes on the market these days as there are types of feet. Your first choice might be the one that looks cool or fashionable, but the best choice is the shoe that fits you best. One that is not too tight or too big and flexible enough so your foot can flex comfortably from heel to toe. You don't want bruised toenails or blisters.
And remember, you may become attached to those old shoes, but they have a usable lifespan. Experts say six months is the longest you should keep your walking shoes, if you are walking 30 minutes a day, or an average of 3 to 4 hours a week. Or better still, have two pairs of shoes and rotate them
9. Choose the time of day that is best for you. If you enjoy walking in the midday sun, then make sure you dress in light cotton clothing and drink lots of fluid. Most people, like myself, prefer to walk early in the morning. I find it increases my energy and lifts my mood for the day. Some of you may prefer late afternoon or evening and that is fine. I tend to have difficulty falling asleep if I exercise too late. Also, if you walk late evening or at nights, please wear light-colored clothing. I see too many people crossing the street after dark in clothing that makes them barely visible.One of the benefits of walking is that you get to go out into the fresh air, but do be careful where you walk.You may be a nature lover, but avoid lonely areas, especially in the late evening or night.
10. Dress properly for the weather. Light clothing when it’s hot, warm clothing when it’s cold. Some people wear plastic jackets to make them sweat, but they can also leave you dehydrated. For hot weather, choose polypropylene fabrics that wick the sweat away from your body and allow your skin to breathe. For cold weather, dress in layers that you can remove. And rain doesn’t have to stop you. Walk to an exercise video in your living room if it's storming outside.
Some closing thoughts
I see a lot of walkers stretching at the beginning of their walk. You should never stretch cold muscles. This can result in you pulling and tearing those muscles. The best way is to warm up first by walking at a slow pace for 5 – 10 minutes before stretching. Then remember to stretch after your walk.
Another mistake some people make is walking with weights, thinking they will help to tone their muscles. Experts advise against this. The reason is that weights can increase your blood pressure, strain ligaments and tendons and cause joint problems. Use the weights when you are not walking. http://www.thewalkingsite.com/faq.html
Walking can become boring after a while, especially if you take the same route every day. To add enjoyment to your walk, you can listen to music on your ipod or smartphone. If you enjoy reading, you can download a book and listen to it while walking.
Walking is one of the best things you can do for your body. By following the tips above you can be on your way to improving your looks, health and your life. Try it!
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