Walking is a form of exercise that is accessible to everyone, is simple and safe to do, and doesn’t require practice to perform.
There are many health benefits to walking:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves mood
- Reduces the risks and helps manage Type 2 diabetes
- Raises HDL and lowers LD cholesterol
- Weight loss and maintenance
- Strengthens bones and muscles especially the heart
- Boosts brain functions
- Alleviates stress, symptoms of depression, and eases anxiety
To prevent any injuries, it is important to be prepared:
- Choose the right walking shoe that is comfortable, gives arch support, and has a flexible sole with firm heel to absorb shock and cushion the feet.
- Dress in layers of clothing that is cotton, loose fitting, and comfortable to wear. Choose bright and reflective colors for early morning or late night strolls.
- Warm up and do stretches before hitting your walking stride.
- End each walk with a cool down and more stretches to reduce stress on muscles and your heart
When getting started on a new walking program, it is important to focus on the basics:
- Always start out slow and easy by walking a comfortable distance at an even pace. Continue at this pace for a few days and then add extra distance and a bit more intensity. The goal is to gradually walk 30 to 60 minutes a day at moderate intensity.
- Keep a check on your walking intensity by taking your pulse manually or with an electronic device. Know your target heart rates for maximizing your workout and avoiding injury.
- Set realistic exercise goals that you can meet and remember that it doesn’t have to be done all at one. Schedule several walk sessions a day to build up to your goal.
- Keep track of your walking progress. Chart the distance, record the steps, and calculate how long you walked to motivate you to keep walking.
They say it takes initiative to begin a walking plan, but motivation and commitment to stick with it. So, make sure to vary your routine and make walking something fun to do instead of a chore.