One of my favorite reasons for living in Florida and in our particular development, is the face that I can walk Year Around. Walking beats going to the gym by a mile for me personally. It is relaxing, comforting, effortless and makes me feel good.
A new study published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that walking offers multiple benefits:
- a stronger heart
- lower blood pressure
- greater oxygen intake
- slower loss of bone mass with age
- slower onset of arthritis
- improved muscle tone
- less stress
- better sleep
- better mood
- better attitude
- Choose the shoes you walk with wisely. Walking in the wrong shoes can actually do you more harm than good. You should have a good arch support and the heel should be slightly higher up.
- As with all exercise, warming up is very important. A little light stretching can do wonders for you before you start walking. Gentle trunk rotations, flexing forward, toe and heal walking, even quick arm and shoulder rotations are all good. You might look weird, but this is really good to get your muscles warmed up
- Walk a little more on the slower side to start and work your way up to a faster pace. You can even use your arms for more aerobic exercise. Increasing your pace gets your heart beating faster and your lungs breathing deeper. Keep up this pace for a good 15 minutes at least.
- Also when you walk, keep your head up, back straight, and abdomen flat, Point your toes straight ahead
- Take long strides, but do not strain
- Just as you warmed up, do the same when you are cooling down. Cool down your walk by walking at a slower pace for five more minutes. Simple gentle stretching exercises after your walk can again help your regimen.
- Keep up the routine for your walking routine. 3 to 4 days of walking is a great idea. Keep adding minutes as you continue your walking routine. This helps to build strength and endurance over time.
- You can also add something to your walk to increase your strength and engage other muscles. You can add ski poles (as crazy as this looks in Florida, people here do that) or carry small dumb bells. This helps your upper body as well as your lower body.
- Drink a lot of water. Personally I drink a lot after my workout, but its generally a good idea to drink as you walk so that you don't become dehydrated.
- Recently I picked up a fitbit - it tracks among other things my heart rate and steps. My goal with this fitbit it to get to 10000 steps/day. Also, I engage in friendly competition with my sisters in Canada...what a great motivator for me ! A friendly COMPETITION makes it really fun.
Picture Source: Healthy Walking