The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said that walking is man’s best medicine. Recent studies have confirmed this to be true: walking as exercise benefits the brain, heart and bones. Furthermore, it also helps prevents a number of diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer.
In today’s world where physical activity is beginning to be taken for granted and health standards are constantly falling, spending hours in the gym under a strenuous workout plan seems inefficient. Meanwhile, walking is now picking up popularity as a gentle, effective, convenient, and cheaper workout option. Ultimately, walking has been the unparalleled vote of many, due to its greater assurance of safety, and higher levels of health and fitness, minus the shelling out of cash and rigorous training.
Though it is pretty much a win-win situation for anyone who decides to engage in it, before you even plan your regimen, here are a few important reminders that you might want to consider:
Before you begin your walking exercise, it is best to first consult your doctor. Remember, engaging in any form of exercise while suffering from a medical condition might endanger your health one way or another, instead of improve it. Keep in mind that the idea of being physically fit doesn’t only mean having that perfect body: being healthy on the inside also matters.
At the beginning of your exercise, it is always best to do a warm-up routine to help your muscles adjust to the activity that you are about to engage in. Start by walking in a slow pace for about 10 minutes; gradually pick up your pace afterwards.
Be posture conscious
When you walk, do so while maintaining good posture. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that when you walk, it is better to keep the head up, the back straight, the stomach sucked in, and the toes pointed straight.
Furthermore, give extra attention to your stride. Take longer strides behind the body, as the toes push off; keep the front strides relatively shorter. Doing so gains speed and power from the force of the foot’s push. Resort to this for gaining speed, instead of merely, carelessly overstriding.
Set a goal
When you begin your routine, set your expectations: how many minutes you’ll be walking, and how often every week. Fitness doesn’t come overnight, so better start everything slow and target a reasonable amount of distance. Gradually extend the area you cover over time.
This is the place
Find a good place where you can feel at ease while remaining active. It could be around your block, a park or a university nearby. No matter where, be sure it is somewhere you have easy access to, so the idea of skipping your routine due to inconvenience won’t even cross your mind.
Make sure to pick a place abundant with fresh air. There’s no sense doing an hour-long
walk while breathing in smog and exhaust.
Once the habit of walking kicks in, you need specific gear to complement your workout. Fitness apparel at one point serves as your motivation: with a pair of your favorite trainers in plain sight, it would be fairly hard to not to go for a walk in them. Expect a lot of sweat, so better go for a dri-fit top. If you would be walking at night, take safety measures. Don white or bright colors, making it easier for vehicles and passersby to spot you. Taking a towel with you at all times also helps.
Socks and shoes
Speaking of shoes, they are the most important paraphernalia you will need. So it will be wise to invest in a good pair that fits well, and allows you to move comfortably. This means no parts that hurt your feet. Also, it is a standard to give a half-inch allowance between your foot and the inside of the shoe to make room for your feet as they expand through the day (which they do). Wearing thick socks as opposed to thin ones may cause you blisters; choose a texture that is somewhere in the middle.
Make notes of your daily walk. Track the distance you’ve covered and the number of steps you’ve made. Doing this informs you of your progress, and even help you compute the number of calories you burn with every walk.
Also, take note of the changes in your walking exercise, like the distance and the number of steps that you’re able to make each day. Let your daily improvements be your driving force to keep on walking.
Dehydration is sure to affect you: it can lead to dizziness and energy loss, amongh others. It would be smart to bring with you a sports bottle filled with water.
Wear a cap with a brim or apply sunblock every so often. Getting enough protection from the sun is necessary to avoid overheating, and more serious consequences like skin cancer.
Top it with tunage
Studies have proven that music gives a person greater motivation to be productive. Pump up and entertain yourself with a customized playlist in your portable music player. This speeds up the time, thereby leading you to take longer walks.
Safety warning: remain aware of your surroundings. Never push the music to full volume, or better yet, plug in only one earphone, and keep your other ear free.
There’s no reason to quit what you’ve already started. Motivate yourself to increase your pace. Don’t let your preference for convenience overshadow your need for a good workout. In short: keep laziness out of your system. Always find time for a walk; if you can’t find time, then make time. Remember: the moment you start to give excuses could be the beginning of your whole exercise routine.
Go the distance
Add a little variation to your everyday route by changing course once in a while. Be a little more daring and try an upward path or a rocky terrain. For an extra dose of nature, find a lesser-known scenic route within your area, and use your walking exercise to explore the area. Finding and exploring a hidden garden or an unknown residential area can beat any workout song any day.
Find another pair of feet
To motivate yourself further, try working out with a friend. Your walking buddy is sure to remind you of your routine and it would be more fun doing it with someone whose company you enjoy. Doing so makes the activity more fun, and you, less likely to abandon it.