Walking is a solid path to fitness | SkyHiNews.com

Walking is a solid path to fitness

Mary Leone OTR, CHTAlpine Physical Therapy & Wellness Center, PCFraser, Colorado

Did you know that walking can be just as effective as many of the highly aerobic sports for conditioning and fitness?According to an article presented by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, a walker can burn as many calories per mile of distance as a jogger. In addition to the fitness benefits, walking has many other advantages when it comes to exercise.In our present economy, walking presents one of the most inexpensive ways to exercise. Invest in a good pair of walking shoes and some comfortable clothing and you will be ready to go.Walking can also be good for your emotional fitness as well. A nice brisk walk can help you clear your mind of the days stress, meditate, or just give you time to reorganize and regroup. Here are a few tips and ideas in starting a walking program. Start small. Get clearance from your doctor if you have any medical conditions that would affect exercise. Start with a small goal of walking 15-20 minutes then increase if you are not experiencing any difficulties. Plan out your walking routes. Find three or four walking routes from your home that have different distances, terrain and slope. Also pick a few places nearby home that you could drive to for your walks.If you live in town and like to be away from traffic, there are many lightly traveled roads in some of the newer developments. There are many easily accessed rural roads on which one can walk. In town, you can also find many places to walk such as the school track, or the perimeters of a sports field, or designated hiking/biking paths. Vary your walking routes to exercise different muscle groups. Have some walking routes with hills, some paved, some trail. Change distances to add variety. Walk on the opposite side of the street. Roads are built with a slant so changing the side you walk on will slightly change your skeletal alignment and fire the muscles in a different pattern. Vary your speed. Particularly on flatter routes, walk briskly to increase your heart rate. Slow down for those times that you just want to de-stress. If you are walking for speed, start slowly to warm up, then gradually increase your speed. Also remember to cool down with some slower walking at the end. If you are walking for aerobic conditioning you may want to monitor your heart rate periodically. Consider safety. Winter weather doesn’t mean you have to stop your walking program. Invest in a pair of tracks for your shoes to help you on the snow and ice. Consider a walking stick to help with balance on the winter terrain. Take your walks after the snowplow passes or consider walking on paths or walkways that are maintained in the winter months. Be cautious of those icy spots that are covered by a fresh dusting of snow. Take a friend. Walking with someone else makes the time pass quickly and helps to get you out on those days that you don’t feel motivated. One of the best friends to take is your dog. Your dog will enjoy and benefit from your regular walks. Just remember to follow proper canine etiquette in leashing and cleaning up after your dog. Take your family. A good family walk is healthy for all. Since we are a very spread out community many of our children are used to getting in a vehicle to go everywhere. Include your children in walking. This is a great time to have conversation. Smaller children will enjoy a good stroller ride and fresh air. Address any aches and pains that you may have from walking: Although walking is a low impact activity, it is repetitious. You may find that you have some foot or joint pain. The solution could be a simple as shoe wear or general conditioning. If not seek out advice from an appropriate health care professional so that you are able to continue on with this great fitness activity.

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