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     Volume 4 Issue 30 | January 21, 2005 |

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King of Exercises:Walking

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.

*Walking 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.

Don't 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.

Ten Walking Mistakes to Avoid

Wendy Bumgardner

Mistake #1: Overstriding
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.

The 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.

#2 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 trainers.

#3 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.

#4 No Arms
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.

#5 Chicken Winging
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.

The 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.

This 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.

#6 Head Down
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 ahead.

#7 Leaning
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.

#8 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.

#9 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.

#10 Overtraining
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.

The 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.


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