Walking 101

The last year has been tough on those of us who like to exercise and a good excuse for those of don’t want to. But the reality is the human body needs movement and it actually doesn’t take much activity to keep yourself fit.


Many people assume exercising means doing something exhausting or painful or they’re just plain intimidated by the idea of working out with others. In fact, a recent study found that half of people felt the idea of working out in a gym environment daunting and nearly another third said they were anxious about trying to get in shape.


The great news is there’s an activity you can do anywhere, any time that improves your circulation, stops the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, lightens your mood, helps you lose weight, strengthens your muscles and joints, and improves your sleep.


It’s walking, of course, and it’s one of the easiest aerobic exercises around.


Here are a few tips to get the most out of walking:


·       Shoes: You don’t need fancy $300 running shoes to walk but make sure you’re wearing comfortable running, hiking or tennis shoes that support your feet.


·       Warm up: Do a few minutes of warming up and stretches — things like lunges, calf raises and leg swings — to loosen up your muscles and ensure you don’t cramp up later.


·       Push yourself: If you haven’t gone on long walks or exercised in a while (or ever), start with a 20-minute leisurely walk three or four times a week. If you’re not breaking a sweat or in pain or you feel like you can handle a bit more exertion, increase your walk time by 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Or walk for the same amount of time but pick up the pace and walk more briskly.


·       Practice good form: Not all walking is the same. The kind of walking we’re talking about here isn’t the kind of walking you’d do while shopping in the mall. It requires a little more technique while you’re doing it. For instance, you’ll want to keep your head up, lengthen your back, keep your shoulders down and back and swing your arms. Here is a good rundown of how to walk properly.


·       Play music: Walking — or doing any exercise — to the beat of music can make it feel easier and more fun. Create a playlist you can listen to during your walk, but always make sure you can hear background noise around you, like approaching cars or bicycles.


·       Cool down: Stretch your legs muscles — including your hamstrings and calves — when you’re done to keep them limber and reduce muscle pain later.


·       COVID: Even though vaccinations are in full swing, the pandemic isn’t over yet. Make sure to wear a mask whenever you head outside and especially if you may come into contact with others.


Are you a walker? Please share your tips with other Shop Talk blog community members.

Did you know: Walking don’ts


To prevent injury while walking, avoid looking down, taking long strides, slouching or wearing the wrong shoes. (Source)

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