The Power of Walking By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT We figure out how to flail our arms and legs. Then we can roll over and over. Then we can sit up. Then we crawl, and tadah… off to the races! We’re …
The Power of Walking
By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT
We figure out how to flail our arms and legs. Then we can roll over and over. Then we can sit up. Then we crawl, and tadah… off to the races! We’re walking! No one really taught us how to walk, but there we have it; a wired-in mode of movement that we were gifted with, given born with a healthy, mobile body. Even without that gift, in some instances, we can sometimes learn, or relearn how to walk.
Walking is a powerful tool of health. Walking not only gets us from Point A to Point B, but walking can be used to improve many areas of our well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking is great for: Maintaining a healthy weight and losing body fat.
Preventing or managing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.
Increasing cardiovascular fitness.
Strengthening muscles and bones.
Increasing energy levels.
Increasing mood, cognition, and memory, as well as improving balance and coordination.
Strengthening the immune system while reducing stress and tension.
These are all terrific reasons to begin or maintain a walking program, and the good news is it doesn’t cost much in gear to get walking, and no special equipment, other than our willprogress, ingness to move, is required to launch our walking program!
A few issues back in our Hastings Journal, I discussed fitness shoes and what to look for in a walking shoe. Remember that we want a wide, thick heel cup, and sturdy stability bars along the sides of the shoes to keep feet and ankles in alignment, and that the shoes are made of materials that allow your feet to breathe. Make sure that the shoe is a good fit, and use socks that will keep their shape, wash up well, and feel comfortable on the foot. There are expert sources in shoe stores, physical or occupational rehab clinics, or within your health care provider system that can give you specific advice on the proper shoe for your needs, and these shoes don’t need to break the bank! Also, we want to wear breathable, comfortable clothing that’s weather appropriate.
Good posture makes for better walking. Walk with your head up, looking forward when you can, and open your collar bones to allow your shoulder girdle to be “unhunched”, and then your arms can swing easily by your sides. Engage your abs by drawing your navel into the back of your pelvis to help take any strain off your lower back. Use a stride that steps from the heel, through the arch and ball of the foot, finally pushing off with the toes as you stride.
There are several different ways you can create a walking program to challenge you appropriately, stave off boredom, and improve your overall health. Walking goals such as increased speed, or distance, or interval training, or walking hilly or flat courses, any or all of these will help to mix up your walking, and help to keep you motivated and interested in your fitness regime. Find a way to keep track of your so you can literally and figuratively see how far you’ve come! You could keep a walking journal to record your course, how long it took, how you felt, etc., and then compare your log entries over time to objectively see how you’ve improved over time. Or, you can set markers along your course to compare how you’ve improved your distance from one landmark to another, or if your time has gotten quicker between landmarks, etc.
There will be days that you’ll have to miss your walking time. Life happens! How will you plan on dealing with “days like these” so you don’t slip back into letting your fitness plan fall by the wayside? If the weather is inclement, can you fit in a walk in your home, or at a track? If your walking companion, if you have one, can’t make it, will you tell yourself you’ll still go walk on your own, of have a “back up buddy”? If you just don’t feel like walking, do you have a way to cheer yourself past the unmotivated to the motivated feeling? As you can see, there’s a bit more planning to a walking program than just the walk itself, and having contingencies built in to your walks will be your friend when it may be easier to simply “throw in the towel”!
It’s always recommend that you check with a Health Care Provider to make sure a walking program is right for you if you’re starting out with fitness walking, or if you’re coming back to walking after some time off. The benefits of regular fitness and enjoyment walking will be worth it over time, and to start, all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, if you’re lucky enough to have the ability to do so! Cheers,