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Walking for Health and Happiness

Updated on January 19, 2011

Hitting the road

Walking is a dying art. Our grandparents walked miles. Their grandparents walked even more miles. Today, the average adult walks fewer steps per day than any of the generations that preceded ours. There are several important movements that are working to change this. Walking is a fantastic and fulfilling form of exercise. It requires no expensive investment of money to get started, can be practiced anywhere, and your progress is easy to track. This low impact exercise can be practiced daily, or the recommended 4 times per week, according to your fitness level and schedule. Even someone who has previously led minimally active or sedentary lifestyle can begin immediately. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Walking for Exercise

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Before You Hit The Road

1) Before beginning any work out or fitness routine it is important to make sure you have the consent of your doctor or health care team. Adults who are not accustomed to regular work outs or who have medical issues should always make sure they follow medical advice and stay within their doctors guidelines for what is an acceptable level of activity.

2) Hydration is essential. Be sure and drink plenty of water before and after your walk. If you expect to walk for an extended period of time, or in a hot or humid climate, it is a good idea to bring water along with you.

3) Dress for success. It is important to make sure that your footwear is up to the challenge. In good weather, walking shoes are ideal, but for those who regularly trek through ice and snow, sometimes a sturdy pair of hiking boots is a better alternative. For expert advice on shoes and a proper fit, you might want to visit a sporting goods store.

4) Safety First. If you will be waking in the dark, proper reflective tape or clothing is a must so that you can be clearly seen. If you have allergies, asthma or other medical issues, bring your medicine along for the walk. If you have a cell phone, bring this as well. A waist pack or "fanny pack" is an excellent way to carry identification and medicines etc.

5) Bring a buddy. Walking does not have to be a solo activity. Bringing a friend along makes good sense. Not only is it safer to travel in pairs, but you more likely to stick with regular walking for fitness if you have the support and encouragement of a friend. If you do choose to walk alone, be sure and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

Ready to Roll

Walking is a great way to get in shape. Whether you have access to trails or simply walk down the street, take notice of the world around you. Notice what is in bloom, the smells of the season, the temperature. Taking a few precautions when you are getting started is just plain good sense, but once you hit the road set your pace according to what feels comfortable for you and leave your cares behind.


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