Among all types of physical activity, walking is the most popular and inexpensive activity that can be adopted by anyone.
Why should you walk regularly?
Walking by itself is a weight-bearing exercise. It is helpful in:
- Reducing the risk of health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes
- Strengthening your bones and muscles
- Increasing the muscle strength and endurance
- Lifting your mood
- Burning more calories
Plan before starting to walk
Consult a doctor
In general, it is suggested to talk to your doctor before commencing any form of physical activity. Healthy individuals can still go ahead. But, in case you are suffering from an illness or towards recovery, it is better to consult your treating physician.
You may require the following few basic things to make your walking comfortable:
- Outfit: Choose clothes that are dry and comfortable. Based on the condition of the weather, you can wear a hat, apply sunscreen and wear a sunglass if it is hot or you can cover your head and ears if it is too cold.
- Shoes: Choose a pair of shoes that is designed for the purpose of walking only. You can either wear athletic shoes, light hiking shoes or rugged walking shoes. However, avoid the running shoes with a thick cushion in the heel or those with high tops.
- Pedometer: According to research, one may have to take maximum 10,000 steps or more per day to gain maximum health benefits. To keep track of the number of steps you take every day, you can use a pedometer although it is not mandatory.
How to schedule your walk?
# Make a plan
Based on the purpose you can plan your walk, i.e. if it is for:
- Maintaining health – Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day for five days in a week will be helpful. You can take breaks every 10 minutes if you are unable to walk for 30 min continuously.
- Weight loss – For weight loss, you may need to walk briskly for an hour for five days in a week.
# Split your time
Walking can be divided into warm-up exercise, brisk walk and slow walk.
Example: If you plan to walk for 15 minutes, do a warm-up (5 minutes) – brisk walk (5 minutes) – and slow walk (5 minutes). You can increase the quick walk time by 5 minutes once in every two weeks. Like this, you can gradually increase your walking time up to 50 minutes, i.e., a total of 60 minutes/day if you are aiming for weight loss.
* Warm-up exercises can include stretching sideward, pushing the wall, pulling your knee near to the chest, etc.
# Mind your speed
Although walking fast helps you to lose calories, never force yourself or hurry to achieve it.
# Right way of walking:
- Raise your chin upwards and keep your shoulders slightly back.
- Your heel should touch the ground first followed by your body weight.
- Keep your toes pointed forwards.
- Your arms should be swinging naturally.
- Walk with known people in a known surrounding.
- Keep your family or friends informed about your walking time and place.
- Avoid areas which are unclean, slippery and dark.
- You can carry your phone and ID.
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- Walking. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/. Centre for disease control and prevention. Accessed on November 15,2016.
- Walking… A Step in the Right Direction. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Health Information Center. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/walking-step-right-direction/Pages/walking-step-right-direction.aspx. Accessed on November 15,201 6.