Walking - everybody's doing it! In fact, millions of North Americans have adopted walking as their main form of exercise. Walking is popular because it can be enjoyed just about anywhere.
Walking – everybody’s doing it! In fact, millions of North Americans have adopted walking as their main form of exercise. Walking is popular because it can be enjoyed just about anywhere. It is affordable, carries little risk of injury, is easy to start, and is an excellent way to clear the mind.
Some prefer walking as a solitary sport while others gather up their families and use the time to bond while enjoying the great outdoors. Whatever your preference, walking is good for you inside and out.
Put Your Heart Into It
A regular walking program improves cardiovascular fitness. Walking increases heart and breathing rates so that working muscles are provided with enough oxygen-rich blood. When the heart and lungs are worked with regular walking, they grow stronger and become more efficient. The end results are improved lung function and reduced blood pressure and resting heart rate.
For those suffering from poor circulation, walking can improve the flow of blood throughout the body, allowing for better blood supply to the extremities. If you have been diagnosed with poor circulation–or any other ailment for that matter–it’s recommended that you consult your health care provider before you begin a walking program.
Pound Pavements to Shed Pounds
Walking can play a key role in controlling body weight, as well as blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In fact, a brisk walk can burn up to 300 calories per hour!
Psychologically, a brisk walk can help to relax your mind and stimulate your thinking. Exercise, in general, provides a sense of overall well-being, boosts confidence, improves mental outlook, and can relieve depression and anxiety by naturally producing endorphins – the body’s own natural tranquilizer.
Take up a regular walking program and your mind, along with your body, will reap the benefits.
Tips For a Good Walking Workout
Warm up first. Begin your walk at a slow pace; then, over the course of 5 to 10 minutes, increase the pace until you are moving at a steady pace that feels challenging, yet doable.
Use proper walking mechanics. Begin each step with your heel digging into the ground and toes pulled up toward the shins. Then roll through the ball of your foot and push off from your toes to make the next stride.
Step size matters. By taking short, quick steps rather than long strides you will have faster turnover and greater efficiency of movement.
Use your arms. The faster your arms pump, the faster your feet will go. Push back your elbows with each step and avoid arms swinging higher than chest level when moving forward. Ensure your elbows move forward and back, not side to side.
Keep your head up. Look ahead of you instead of at the ground. This will keep your neck properly aligned.
Zip ’em up. Use your abs by imagining you’re zipping up a tight pair of jeans. This will keep you safely supporting your spine and standing tall.
Use your mind. Set aside the problems of the day and let your mind relax. A verbal affirmation here and there will set the tone for a healthier and stronger you.
Find Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Invest in a shoe made for walking. If you’re involved in several recreational activities, then a cross-trainer may be best.
- Consider your foot type. People with “flat” feet require less cushioning and more heel control while those with high-arched feet require more shock absorption.
- Choose a store that specializes in athletic shoes with salespeople trained to assist individual needs.
- Your foot may increase by half a size over the course of the day, so try to buy shoes at the end of the day when foot size is at its maximum.
- Allow about a half-inch between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If you have one foot larger than the other, buy your shoes to suit the larger foot.
- The shoe should be as wide as possible across your forefoot but the heel shouldn’t slip. Shoes with variable lacing (narrow and wide eyelets on the same shoe) are available and allow a more custom fit to your foot.
- Be sure your shoes fit comfortably in the store because they won’t feel better after you’ve worn them for a while. Take the time to walk around before buying to ensure the shoes suit your feet.