Very few people today are getting enough exercise. Sitting
all day in front of a computer or any of the many jobs that
confine people to an office does not give the body enough
of a work out. The only answer to this is to take up some
form of extra activity to give your body this important
workout. It has been found that walking is one of the best
forms of exercise because it contributes so many benefits
to the human body without risking injury or stressing it.
helps control weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
A brisk walk can burn up to 100 calories per mile or 300
calories per hour. Walking is the perfect complement to
a sensible diet to *lose weight and keep it off.
*Walking gets the heart beating faster to transport oxygen-rich
blood from the lungs to the muscles. The heart and lungs
grow more efficient with a regular walking regimen, reducing
blood pressure and the resting heart rate. Walking is even
a central element of medical rehabilitation. Recovery from
many ailments, including heart attack, is facilitated by
a regular walking regimen.
* For people with poor circulation to the arms and legs,
walking can increase the size and improve the efficiency
of the tiny vessels that supply blood for cellular respiration.
* Psychologically, walking generates an overall feeling
of well being and can relieve depression, anxiety and stress
by producing endorphins, the body's natural tranquilliser.
A brisk walk will relax you and stimulate your thinking.
fall prey to the assumption that if a little walking is
good, a lot is better. If you undertake walking four or
five miles a day, you'll quickly grow tired of the demands
it makes on you and quit. Stick with a brisk walk around
the neighbourhood -- 10 to 15 minutes out, and then retrace
your steps. Also, see your doctor for a check-up before
undertaking any new exercise programme.
Walking Mistakes to Avoid
When walkers try to walk faster, a natural inclination is
to lengthen your stride in front, reaching out further with
your forward foot. This leads to a clumsy, ungainly gait,
striking hard with the feet. Your shins hurt and you really
don't get any faster.
cure: All of the power of your walk comes from pushing with
the back leg and foot. If you are trying to walk fast, concentrate
on taking shorter, quicker steps. Then think of really rolling
through your step with your back foot and leg, getting a
good push off. The result will be faster feet and lengthening
your stride where it does you some good -- in back.
The Wrong Shoes
Heavy, stiff -- soles won't bend, can't twist them, over
1 year old, too small when foot swells while walking…
If this describes your shoes, you are setting yourself up
for plantar fasciitis, muscle pulls and knee problems.
The cure: Wear proper walking shoes such as sneakers or
Flapping, Slapping Feet
Your feet hit the ground with a slap. You land flat footed
with each step and get no roll.
You may develop shin pain.
The cure: Get flexible shoes that bend at the ball of the
foot. A pair of running shoes with a low heel is best.
Strengthen your shins, ankle, and lower leg:
*Toe raises: Stand on a stair facing upstairs with your
heels hanging over the edge. Dip the heels down, then raise
them high. Repeat 10-20 times.
*Step Stretch Toe Raises
*Foot fun: While sitting around, several times a day, tap
your toes quickly for several seconds. Then write the alphabet
in the air with your foot. Repeat with the other foot.
*Heel walking: As part of your warm-up, walk on your heels
for 30 seconds.
You keep your arms still at your sides while walking, or
swing them without bending them. You notice that your hands
swell quite a bit while walking.
The cure: Bend your arms 90 degrees and swing them naturally
back and forth opposite the leg motion.
Okay, you know to bend your arms when you walk. But you
swing them from side to side, crossing the centre of your
body and extending out to endanger passers-by. Or your fists
come up on each swing past your breast, up even to your
chin or threatening your nose.
cure: Keep your elbows close to your body and swing your
arms mostly back and forward, as if reaching for your wallet
from a back pocket on the backstroke. As they come forward,
your hands should not cross the centre line and should come
up no further than your chest.
arm motion will give power to your walk. Your feet generally
move only as fast as your arms. This motion lets you concentrate
on power from your rear leg without wasting motion in front
of your body. It also looks far less silly.
You are always looking down, hanging your head and staring
at your feet.
The cure: Look up!
Good posture for walking allows you to breathe well and
provides a long body line to prevent problems with your
back, neck, and shoulders.
Chin up when walking -- it should be parallel to the ground.
Your eyes should focus on the street or track 10-20 feet
You lean forward more than 5 degrees. You lean back. You
have a sway back with or without a forward lean.
The cure: Stand up straight but with relaxed shoulders,
chin up and parallel to the ground. Think about walking
tall. Think "suck in your gut, tuck in your butt."
Your back should have a natural curve, do not force it into
an unnatural sway with behind out back stomach out forward.
Strengthen your abdominal muscles through sit-ups and other
exercises so you are able to hold yourself straighter.
The Wrong Clothes
You walk at night wearing dark coloured clothing with no
reflective stripes or a safety vest. You are always wearing
too much or not enough, end up sweaty and clammy in any
weather. No hat.
The cure: To prevent becoming a hood ornament, wear a mesh
reflective safety vest or put reflective strips on your
night-time walking outfit. Many running shoes have reflective
elements, but studies show it is best to have several reflective
elements on to be seen from all directions.
For walking comfort, dress in layers. The inner layer should
be of a fabric such as polypropylene that will wick sweat
away from your body to evaporate -- not cotton, which holds
it in next to the skin. The next layer should be insulating
-- a shirt or sweater easily removed if you warm up. The
outer layer should be a jacket that is windproof, and waterproof
or water-resistant in wet climates.
Hats are essential equipment. They insulate you so you warm
up faster. They shield the top of your head from the sun
-- an area where it is hard to apply sunscreen unless you
are bald, but still burns. Hats with visors also shield
your face from sun exposure.
Not Drinking Enough
You don't drink enough water before, during, and after walking.
The cure: Drink a glass of water every hour throughout the
day to stay hydrated. Ten minutes before your walk, drink
a glass of water. During your walk drink a cup or more of
water every 20 minutes. After you finish, drink a glass
or two of water.
Avoid caffeinated beverages before your walk, they cause
you to lose fluid, making you thirstier as well as making
you take inconvenient stops along the way.
On walks over two hours, use an electrolyte-replacement
sports drink and drink when thirsty. On long distance walks,
drink when thirsty and be sure to replenish salt with a
sports drink rather than drinking only water.
You walk and walk and walk. But you have lost your enthusiasm.
You feel tired, irritable. You always have aches and pains.
You may be overdoing it.
cure: Even the Creator rested on the seventh day. Take a
day off now and then to let your body repair, build up muscle,
and store up some energy to get you back on the road again.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005