While you may think you mastered your walking technique when you were two years old, following a few extra tips can help you walk your way to fitness. Instead of just walking from your car to your desk, you'll walk long distances and improve your health. A walking program can help you increase your cardiovascular health, reduce your stress, and lower your weight. However, you must design a program properly, so you'll be motivated, challenged, and inspired, and you won't be sitting on the sidelines due to injuries. Keep reading to find out how to craft one of these programs for yourself.
Before you start walking each and every day, you'll need to invest in the proper equipment. Walking is a natural and benign task, but walking long distances can put a lot of pressure on your knees, ankles, and feet. It's best to invest in shoes designed for walking. They have a stiff middle, so the shoes will support your foot as it bends, and a thick sole that will cushion your heel as you walk. Make sure the shoes are comfortable as soon as you put them on. You shouldn't have to "break in" your walking shoes. Next, look for reflective clothing made for runners, walkers, and joggers. This clothing often contains stripes on the sleeves that will reflect oncoming headlights. This can help you stay safe if you're walking in the dark. If you'd rather not spend up on reflective equipment, be prepared to carry a flashlight in your hands as you walk in the dark.
Planning Your Route
If you haven't walked for exercise in a long time, talk to your doctor before you begin, just to make sure you don't have an underlying health condition that could interfere with your program. When your doctor gives you the green light, start slowly and walk only until you feel tired. Don't try to tackle an hour-long walk on the very first day if you're not used to walking at all. You may need to start with 15-minute walks and slowly work up to the sessions of your dreams. As you improve, try to walk faster and swing your arms as you move. Walking the same distance, just a bit faster, can help you burn more calories.
Your walking route should be well lit and free of debris. If possible, look for walking paths that wind around golf courses, parks, and nature preserves. You'll avoid oncoming cars, cracked pavement, and other hazards that could cause you to trip and fall. You'll also have beautiful scenery to look at as you exercise.
When the winds and rains of winter arrive, you may need to modify your route. Instead of walking on snow- and ice-covered paths, walk inside your local shopping mall and rock out to your headphones. Get a three-month gym membership, and walk on the treadmill instead of walking outside. If the weather clears in the middle of the day but tends to cloud up at night, change your walking time to match the weather. Just remember to stick with your walking routine. When spring arrives once more, you'll be prepared to jump right back into the game without a pause.