Easy Tips For A Healthy Walking Routine

Walking is one of the cheapest and easiest methods for staying active, losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. All you really need is a pair of good shoes, comfortable clothes and the desire to work toward improving your health.

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People tend to underestimate what walking can do because it doesn’t require a lot of effort. But according to the Mayo Clinic, regular walking can help you prevent or manage conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, boost your mood, coordination and balance, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

To reap all of these walking benefits, check out the following easy tips for a terrific walking routine. As with any other exercise program, speak with your doctor before starting.

Before You Start:

Choose The Proper Shoes

Having the right shoes for walking is important, as your feet, legs and joints can use all the support they can get. The American Heart Association recommends shoes that are:

•    Lightweight and as breathable as possible
•    Flexible enough to bend right in your hands
•    Have cushioning that is thickest in the heel part

Try on shoes in the store to get the right fit. It’s best to try them on near the end of the day, when your feet tend to be their biggest.

Wear The Proper Clothes

You want to be comfortable when you’re walking because if you’re not, you’ll be less inclined to do it. Select clothing that is comfortable and fits loosely so your movements aren’t restricted. If you’re walking to work, you can still wear your work clothes; just remember to wear proper walking shoes, and bring your office ones with you. Should you decide to walk at night, remember to use reflective tape, or wear brighter clothes to increase visibility to others for your safety.

Set Walking Goals

Be realistic about what you can do.

Try to get in around 30 minutes of moderate walking daily. If you can’t set aside so much time at once, try to spread out your time for walking over the day. For example, you could try to do three 10-minute walks over the course of a day.

Set A Comfortable Pace

Don’t try to become a walking champion overnight. It’s perfectly fine to start off slow and build yourself up, especially if you weren’t doing regular exercise before. Start off easy, such as five minutes a day, and increase your time until you reach that 30-minute mark.

Establish A Regular Routine

Walk once a day on at least five days a week. By having a consistent routine, you’re more likely to stay on track with your personal goals.

Begin Your Routine

Walking as exercise calls for specific elements to be present in order to get a complete workout. Following these elements, covered below, can make walking easier and help lessen your chance of injury.

Start With A Warm-Up

A warm-up will boost blood flow to your muscles, raise your body temperature and get you physically ready for harder exercise. Walking at a slow pace for about ten minutes is usually a good way to warm your body up.

Get A Little Flexible

The following flexibility exercises are a recommended part of any warm-up to prevent injury and should be done after your slow-pace walk.

•    Arm circles: Hold out your arms parallel to the ground and straight out from your sides. Rotate your arms backwards at a slow pace, forming small circles that slowly become bigger. Rest for about three seconds, and repeat the action again but go forward instead.

•    The twist: Hold your arms out, parallel to the ground, and stand with both your feet apart. Swing your arms from side to side but keep your lower body still. Repeat multiple times to loosen your shoulders, back and hips.

•    Reach overhead: With your feet apart, reach up with your right arm and reach back to your other side. Keep your shoulders and hips straight. Hold this position for ten seconds, and then relax. Do the same with your other side, and repeat both actions five to ten times.

•    Toe point: Stand on just one of your feet, and then lift the other leg and point your toes in a gentle movement. Stay in this position for ten seconds. Pause, flex the foot with your toes pointing upward, and hold this stance for another ten seconds. Do this with your other foot and repeat five to ten times for both.

•    Ankle circles: Stand on one of your feet, and gently lift the other. Point your toes and rotate your ankles in a clockwise direction. Do this to your other leg, and repeat five to ten times for each of your legs.

Time To Walk

Once you’ve tackled everything above, you’re finally ready to do your walk at a normal pace. To reap the most health benefits, your walk should be of moderate intensity. This means walking fast enough to increase your breathing, boost your heart rate and break out in a sweat. To check if you’re doing it correctly, see if you can talk but not sing the words of a song.

Getting your normal walk to a fitness stride requires purposeful movement and the correct posture. According to the Mayo Clinic, a proper walking technique includes:

•    Holding your head high
•    Making natural shoulder movements
•    Keeping your back straight, without arching backward or forward
•    Swinging arms freely with a slight bend to the elbow
•    Looking ahead and not at the ground
•    Keeping the chin parallel with the ground
•    Tightening the stomach muscles gently
•    Walking smoothly, rolling the foot from heel to toe

Enter Cool-Down

As with any other exercise, a cool-down should be done after walking. Continue your workout at a lower intensity and slower pace, so your heart returns to normal at a gradual pace. You can, for example, walk slowly for ten minutes to accomplish this.

Do a simple stretching routine post-walk as well, to help increase your joint motion range and flexibility.

Stay As Motivated As Possible

Your initiative got you to start a routine, but you need commitment to stay with it. The easiest way to keep to a walking routine is by making it a habit. Include walking in your daily routine wherever you can. For example, you could walk to the store or workplace instead of driving, or take a walk with friends or family members after dinner.Pin It

Try Something Different

Adding a little variety can also help keep you on track. Take different routes occasionally to see what your area and neighborhood has to offer. If you have parks nearby, you can drive to one and do your walk there for a little natural scenery.

Don’t Give Up On It

If you miss a day or two, just get back into your walking routine as soon as you can. Sometimes, things happen, and you don’t want to let an unexpected event derail your progress.

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