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Engage in Walking Exercise

Updated on April 9, 2009
Walking exercise is more fun with a friend
Walking exercise is more fun with a friend

Why Engage in Walking Exercise

You want to get in shape, but don't want to pay money to join a gym. Its also expensive to create an at-home gym.

Your best option if you are in relatively good health, is to start a walking exercise program. Of course, you should always check with your doctor first before going on a diet or starting a new workout program. Even though walking is low-impact, you could affect weak knees, joints or your back. Be sure to talk about chronic conditions you may have, like asthma or diabetes.

The beauty of walking is that it can be done anywhere, at just about any time. All you need is a proper pair of shoes. No fancy equipment or special clothes are required.

My favorite aspect of walking exercise is that its the most fun with a friend - whether of the human or canine persuasion! Our dog starts running around in circles as soon as he sees me lacing up my sneakers. We both need to get out to stretch our legs. From the office, my colleagues and I can spend a productive lunch hour burning, rather than consuming, calories when we go on a walk. Plus, it's a great time to catch up on the status of projects, as well as office gossip.

There is a proper way to walk for exercise. In addition, you'll need to think about walking shoes. Read on for how to walk your way to better health.

Walking Form

Tips for Walking Properly

There are several ways in which you could get injured simply by walking. This includes: posture muscle strength, balance, compensation for existing conditions or injuries, height and/or weight, and laxity of joints or muscles. With the proper tips in mind, however, you can get walking tomorrow and start your way to getting in better health.

The most important thing to consider with walking exercise is proper alignment. Four tips come into play:

1. Your arms should be bent at 90 degree angles and should "pump" next to the body. Do not criss-cross your mid-section. Think of a train pumping its wheels. The same tip applies to runners!

2. Think about the postion of your spine. Try not to arch your back or hunch your shoulders. Overall, the spine should be elongated.

3. How is your foot landing on the ground? When that occurs, consider flexing your toes and walking in as straight a line as possible (instead of side to side). Roll over your planted foot and push off from your toes.

4. Consider stride length. The faster you walk, the longer your stride usually becomes, but it is more efficient to shorten your stride (think about those pinched speed walkers). You'll be able to walk longer and also burn plenty of calories when you think about rolling off your foot and pushing from your toes during your walk.

If you are walking to lose weight (or stay in shape), be sure to get a pedometer to help you track the recommended 10,000 steps per day. This is not how far you have to walk during your exercise session, but the total number of steps per day you should be taking (approximately 5 miles).

Another thing to consider is how your gait may be affecting your workout. We'll get to that below.

Stretches for Walking

Stretch before walking
Stretch before walking

Get the Right Walking Shoes

When you are walking for exercise, be sure to consider how your gait may be affecting your routine. Overpronating (rolling your foot inward) or supination (rolling your foot outward) can be both painful and lead to injuries that can take your off-course.

Be sure to see a foot specialist to determine whether you need orthoses (plural for orthotics). I got fitted for orthotics (molded foot supports) about a year ago and my feet are so much happier! They are better supported and the inserts also help improve your stride.

In addition, be sure to replace your walking shoes every 6 months (or more, if you put more than 500 miles on them in that time period), and shop at a fitness store that has a treadmill and camera to help you determine your stride and find the right shoes specifically for you.

For example, motion control shoes are rigid and provide support on the inside to prevent pronating.  If you have flat feet and/or are overweight, these may be the shoes for you!  On the other hand, stability shoes are more flexible and are best for those that only pronate a little bit.  If you supinate, shoes with more cushioning are recommended because your feet are more rigid.

You Can Get in Shape by Walking

As with any exercise routine, be sure to stretch before and afterwards. See some suggested exercises above. If you experience pain after your walk, take anti-inflammatories like Advil and be sure to check with your doctor. Of course, do not engage in walking exercises if you have joint, foot or back pain.

Walking can be a very easy way to get out and enjoy the neighborhood, get your dog some exercise, and also start getting in shape. The equipment is simple and the results can be fast.

Don't worry about expensive health club contracts or hours on the treadmill. Just get out there and walk. No more excuses. Its time now.

Have you started a walking program recently? Please let me know in the comments below.

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    • profile image

      Jonathan Paul 

      9 years ago

      Thanks a lot for such a nice and great blog .There may be a huge number of physical exercises. But, walking is the best and the most efficient one. This can be followed by anyone, irrespective of the age, health condition etc... I appreciate this blog .

      http://healthnbeauty.livejournal.com/4747.html

    • Walking Equipment profile image

      Walking Equipment 

      9 years ago from Phoenix AZ

      Great Hub. Hope it gets everyone on the road.

      Proper shoe and socks are the critical issue. A bit of time and effort spent in selecting the right pairs will pay dividends later on in greater commitment and fewer injuries. In addition there are other common sense items that you'll need to consider such as water bottles, hats, winter walking gear, etc.. While not as critical as shoes and socks they can make the difference between a successful walking program and an unsuccessful one. http://www.walkingequipment.net

      Tom

    • hypnosis4u2 profile image

      hypnosis4u2 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      I'm at the point where knees and other joints ache if I run more than a lap the next day. So walking - and taking dog for exercise are my main way of keeping shape now. I agree with walking be a great way to get exercise. And you provided a lot of tips and expertise. Thanks for hub.

    • New Day profile imageAUTHOR

      New Day 

      9 years ago from Western United States

      Hi G-ma! Walking is so great and ideal for many people looking for an easy workout. What kind of machine do you have? I have a treadmill, but wondering... Hugs to you too, New Day

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      I do a 40 minute workout everyday but here in the house...I have a cool walking machine...G-Ma :O) Hugs

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