Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Walking: Trim Your Way to Fitness in 2014

Around this time of year, many people commit to more fitness in the new year and think that the more they spend on gym memberships and expensive equipment, the more they will succeed (1). For some it works, but in general it can be as simple as walking. Walking is certainly one of the easiest and most economic sports out there. This post will give you more information on walking for fitness and keeping a regime of walking.

If you think walking is not enough as an exercise, at least use it as a starting point to get you motivated. Going out of the door and walking around the neighborhood for a few miles "provides us with a sense of accomplishment as well as a cardio workout;" our "legs and lower body muscles begin to acclimate to the exercise and begin burning fat" (1). The most important point here, though, is that after we finish we get the feeling that we are able to go on and do more for our health.    

What are the general benefits of walking?

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen the bones
  • Improve the mood
  • Improve balance and coordination (2) 
Remember that the "faster, farther and more frequent you walk, the greater the benefits" (2).

Also, it is important to know, how should we walk? 

  • Head is up, looking forward, not at the ground
  • Neck, shoulders and back relaxed and not stiffly upright
  • Swinging arms freely with a slight bend in elbows
  • Stomach muscles slightly tightened
  • Back straight, not arched forward or backward
  • Walking smoothly and rolling feet from heel to toe

When you start to incorporate walking into your routine, you need to be prepared as well. here are a few points to get you started:

  • Get suitable gear: shoes with proper arch support, firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion the feet and absorb shock. If you walk in the dark, get the proper bright or reflexive colors to be seen
  • Select the walking course carefully: for example avoid ones with potholes, cracks and low-hanging limbs
  • Warming up: in the beginning walk slowly for 5-10 minutes to prepare your body and muscles for exercising
  • Stretching: after cooling down stretch your muscles gently. Another option is to stretch before walking but after warming up

These are some advice to keep you in the habit of walking:

1- Set realistic goals
2- Track your progress
3- Stay motivated

To stay motivated:

  • Set yourself up for success
  • Make walking enjoyable
  • Vary your routine
  • Take missed days in stride (2) 

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