Walking – Low Impact Way Of Getting Fit
Walking is a gentle, low impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. It’s one of your body’s most natural forms of exercise. It’s safe, simple and doesn’t require a lot of practice, and the health benefits are many.
Walking for fitness can help you achieve a number of important health benefits, for example you can:
- Reduce your risk of a heart attack
- Manage your blood pressure. If you already have a blood pressure, walking can help reduce it
- Walking keeps your heart healthy by lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raising high density lipoprotein (HDL). A regular walking program also reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, a factor that contributes to heart disease.
- Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you’re female, overweight and at a high risk of diabetes, walking can improve your body’s ability to process sugar (glucose tolerance).
- Manage your diabetes. If you already have type 2 diabetes, taking part in a regular walking program can improve your body’s ability to process sugar, lower your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease and help you live longer.
- Manage your weight. Walking burns calories, which can help you manage your weight. For example, middle-aged women who walk more than 10,000 steps a day have lower levels of body fat than do women who are less active.
- Manage stress and boost your spirits. Going fro a brisk walk is great way to reduce stress. Regular walking also can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Stay strong and active. As you get older, walking for physical fitness can prevent falls, help you stay mobile and maintain your independence.
Prepare yourself before each walking session
Take time to prepare yourself to prevent injuries, such as blisters on your feet or muscle pain. Wear walking shoes and comfortable, protective clothing.
Before you set out, be sure to select comfortable footwear. Also dress in loose fitting, comfortable clothing and in layers if you need to adjust to the temperature. If you walk outside, choose clothes appropriate for the weather. Avoid rubberized materials, as they don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Wear bright colors or reflective tape after dark so that motorists can see you.
Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm up your muscles. You can walk in place if you want. Increase your pace until you feel warm. Warming up your muscles reduces your risk of injury.
After warming up, stretch your muscles for about five minutes before walking. Include the calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch, lower back flexion stretch and chest stretch.
To help ensure your success, start slow and easy. If you’re a seasoned walker, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’ve been inactive and tire easily, it’s best to start slow and easy. At first, walk only as far or as fast as you comfortably can. If you can only walk for five minutes, let that be your starting point. For example, you might try short daily sessions of three to five minutes and slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week. Then, over several weeks’ time, you can gradually work your way up to 30 minutes of walking five days each week.
Measure The Intensity Of Your Workout
As you walk, measure the intensity of your workout. Knowing your level allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it. You have these options:
- Talk test. If you’re so out of breath that you can’t carry on a conversation with the person you’re walking with, you’re probably working too hard and should slow down.
- Borg scale. This method is a self assessment of your perceived exertion. You rate how hard you think you’re walking on a scale that ranges from six (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort). Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.
- Calculate your heart rate (pulse). To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery).
Cool Down After Each Walking Session
To reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then repeat your stretches.