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A healthy alternative

By Zoya Malek
July 10, 2002
The Iranian

Walking is good for you. It is an excellent alternative to using medication as a means to promote sleep. There are additional benefits too. Regular walking strengthens your heart, and lungs, improves much needed circulation, assists with weight control, decreases appetite in the long run, tones muscles, and helps keep bones strong as a weight bearing exercise.

It is accessible, requires only a pair of shoes, comfortable clothes, and a motivated person. Other than that, you donít need to spend any additional money for gym memberships, costly or special equipments, commuting, or special terrain.

To make your walking more enjoyable, I have compiled the following tips:

* Follow your natural rhythm: Donít get too ambitious and start out too fast, or be over protective and start out too slow. Follow what your body craves the most, and go with the flow.

* Wear proper shoes: Running shoes could be used for walking. However, since running shoes can cost anywhere from $50-$200, a simple supportive walking shoes could be an excellent cost effective alternative. Look for shoes that have a wide toe box and lots of flexibility under the forefoot. Shoes should feel comfortable the moment you try them on. They should not be tight or too wobbly.

* Dress for the weather: Wear layers of comfortable clothing that wonít restrict movement. Soft breathable fabrics are best. Woolís great for cold weather. Make sure you compliment your walk by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for bright days.

* Integrate a proper stretch routine: Your walking regime should consist of proper warm-up to increase the flexibility and temperature of your body, and a proper cool down to help you get back to your initial level. If you donít know any proper stretches, or donít have time for it, start your walk at a slow level, and work your speed up to power walking. An example of a cool down exercise would be abdominal exercises, which also help support back posture.

* Integrate your daily errands: Sometimes if you give a purpose to your walk, such as running errands as part of your daily regime, can offset any boredom that you may feel, while allowing you to help initiate your walk and give you additional much needed motivation. Examples would be a visit to a friendís house or going to the post office.

* Join a walking group: Studies suggest that any physical activity done with a partner or a group of people last longer and may be more meaningful than if done alone. Look around for a walking or hiking group near you, and look into the possibilities of joining the group. You may be able to make new friends and extend this relationship to other areas of your life.


Zoya Malek is a registered Kinesiologist and a certified health & fitness professional. To learn more, go

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