Walking As An Exercise
Though we walk daily at home,to the office,inside work-place,at the mall,park etc.,but they are basic movements only.To get health benefits from it,it requires discipline to walk enough.It is recommended to take at least 10000 steps daily.Walking as an exercise has the lowest dropout rate of all.Thus walking is a simple,free,one of the easiest and of course most underrated form of exercise to become more active,lose weight and become healthier.
Benefits of Walking:
√ walking increases cardiovascular(heart) and pulmonary(lungs) fitness thus reduces risk of coronary heart diseases(heart attack),high blood pressure,asthma etc.
√ regular walking maintain normal sugar level in blood and thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
√ prevent osteoporosis(calcium deficiency in bone) and thus strengthens the bones.
√ increases amount of good cholesterol and reduces amount of bad cholesterol.
√ helps in weightloss.
√ regular walking also reduces the risk of certain cancers like colon cancer and breast cancer.
√ it greatly helps in leaving the habit of smoking.
√ it keeps us more active physically and makes us feel fresh and stressfree mentally(i.e.lift our mood) and thereby increases our immunity(body's resistant power against diseases).
√ it improves digestion and prevent constipation.
√ walking improves your balance and coordination.
Where to Walk---
A place with flat terrain,straight path,smooth surface, minimum traffic and of course nearby to your residence block is a good choice for exercise walk.If you can not find such place nearby,You can drive to a park with a walkway or a shoreline of a waterbody(like a pond or a river).To avoid boredom you can take different path daily.If you can't go out,a treadmill walk with slow speed setting will do.
What to Wear for a Walk---
*Wear loose fitting clothings to allow free movements.Select thin layers rather than heavy clothings.
*Wear appropriate shoes that provide comfort,stability and flexibility to the feet while walking as walking put a bit pressure on your feet,which can cause pain and blisters.It is wise to invest little more money in purchasing proper walking shoes to get short term and long term benefits.Heel-counter(area of shoe that hold the back of the heel) should be comfortable and not tightly cupping the back of the heel.Mid-sole of shoe should be giving proper support to arch of the sole of feet.Toe-box (area of shoe that surrounds the toes) should provide enough room for the toes to move freely and there should be approximately one half to a full thumb's width between end of the biggest toe to the end of the toe-box.In-sole with thick but soft material will act as a cushion against the thumping while walking.Outer-sole should be flexible as well as have an anti skid design to help smooth easy walking.Walking with chappals or slippers is harmful as the foot has to lift it while walking,this stretches the muscles unnecessarily.Furthermore there is hard thumping of the feet when walking with slippers which injures the joints.
How to Exercise Walk----
√ before you start exercise walking gentle stretching or warm-up should be done to prepare the joints and muscles for it.
√ walk with good posture.Keep the head up and centered between shoulders,with eyes focused straight ahead at the horizon.Keep shoulder relaxed and straight avoid slouching forward.Keep the stomach pulled in slightly.Arms should remain close to the body with elbow bent at 90°.Arm should keep in motion,swinging front to back in pace with the stride of the opposite leg.Avoid clenching of hands or making tightfist.Keep hands relaxed,lightly cupped (like you are holding raw eggs in them) with palms inward and thumbs on top.
√ with each step land gently on the heel and mid-foot of your lead foot,rolling smoothly to push-off with the toes of rear foot.Be mindful about using the balls of the feet and toes to push forward with each step.
√ Start walk with slow pace ,then gradually increase the speed.After some time try walk little faster.Do not take too long of a stride while trying to walk at a faster speed,instead try pushing off your leading foot with more force while keeping it closer to the body to minimise the fatigue.Speed should be such that you could be able to carry on a conversation without feeling breathless.Towards end of your walk slow down the pace to cool down.Finish off with a few gentle stretches.
√All above guide lines are still important if you are using treadmill.But avoid using handrails as much as possible.
√ do not forget to hydrate yourself well before walking.Take 250 to 500 ml.of water before you are about to walk.
How Much to Walk and When---
Ideally you should start with five minute walk and work up to walking for at least 30 minutes(roughly 3.5 to 4 kilometers) for at least 4 to 5 times a week.If you can not find that much time try two 15 minutes session or three 10 minutes session throughout the day.Start slowly if you are leading a sedentary life or not doing exercise regularly.You can start with 5 minutes a day in the first week and then gradually increase the time by 5 minutes each week till you reach the set time of 30 minutes.120 steps a minute is considered a good walking speed.
The best time for an exercise walk is early morning time,still you can select your time after considering your family,occupation and other social liabilities.
It is not advisable to walk in hot humid weather as well as after a full stomach.
Once Started Maintain It------
Once started exercise walking ,it takes commitment to sticking with it.To stay motivated make it a habit.Make it enjoyable by listening to music or a book of your interest on a tape while walking especially when you are walking alone.Ask your family member or a friend or a neighbour to join you .One way to keep walking regularly is by becoming a volunteer to promote walking in your community and help others to get active.Walking in group is also a great way to start and maintain it.You can vary your route to make your walking more enjoyable.
What If It Have No Time---
Most of us find it difficult to add exercise walking to our daily busy day,even if it will improve our health markedly.However benefit of walking still can be achieved without making major life-style changes just by including walking in to your daily routine,like-
-walk the kids to school.
-take the stairs and not the elevator.
-park your car at the far end of the lot so you can walk some to and fro from work.
-walk part of your journey to work.
-if you are using public tranport get down a station earlier.
-walk your dog.
-take a stroll with family or friend after the dinner.
-take a 30 minute window-shopping walk around the mall.
-take 10 to 15 minute walk during lunch break at your work place.
Thus these few steps of walking will take you to a very important destination-a better health,so walk on !!