A healthy alternative
By Zoya Malek
July 10, 2002
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.
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