Woman enjoying the benefits of walking

The benefits of walking

Once the weather gets nice everyone is out and about. I am sure you know that walking is beneficial for your health but do you know why?

Walking helps improve your mood, well-being, longevity, and friendships. It also helps tone the body, increase your blood flow, and increases weight loss. It also decreases your blood pressure, any type of heart disease, and your chance of having high cholesterol. It is helpful for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes or individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

Things to keep in mind before you start a walking program are:

  • Has your health care provider ever told you that you have heart trouble, diabetes, or asthma?
  • When you are physically active do you have pains in your chest, neck, or shoulders?
  • When you exercise do you feel dizzy or faint?
  • Has your health care provider told you that you have joint or bone problems?
  • Are you over 50 years of age and not used to a moderate level of activity?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have any medical conditions not mentioned here that could prevent you from starting a walking program?

Another thing to consider is having a walking partner. Having a partner will not only be motivating but also make walking more fun. You can go on a walk with your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, mom, dad, kids, pets, or hey, why not just include the whole family! Having a walking partner makes walking more safe and secure. The time you spend with your partner can be a release of any emotions you are feeling within that day, a time to plan upcoming events or just to simply go on a walk and chat. A partner will also encourage you to reach your goals and setting a time to meet will also improve your punctuality and drive.

Even if you don’t have a partner walking is still encouraged. Plug into your MP3 player and let this be you time. Time to reflect on your day, yourself, or to enjoy the weather. When you are walking alone be sure to be aware of your surrounding and don’t have your music too loud.

Things to remember before starting your walk

  • Do you have allergies? If the answer is yes, I would suggest taking any type of anti-histamine to help prevent a flare-up of allergies.
  • What time of the day is it, and where will you be walking? If it is an early morning you may need sunglasses and depending on where you walk, maybe some bug spray. This also applies to going walking in the evening, especially if your route includes forests or parks.
  • How long will your walk be? If your going for a long walk I would recommend bringing a water bottle with you just in case you get thirsty. As well as food if you are going for a hike.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, this applies to individuals who like walking throughout forests. Do a little research on plants in the area because I know you wouldn’t want to get poison ivy or poison oak!

What type of apparel should I wear?

It is recommended that you wear clothes that are comfortable, dry and able to wick away moisture.

Most important is your footwear. Now comes the question of what shoes to buy. Here is a quick analysis you can do on yourself to help determine what shoes to consider

  • Do you have a high arch, normal arch or no arch?
  • Is your foot wide or narrow?
  • Do I put my weight on the inside of my foot or the outside of my foot?

You can also go to your local sports store and ask them to check all of these things for you. Keep in mind YOU are the one who is wearing the shoe – it has to be comfortable. Don’t worry if you have to walk around the store 10+ times. It is your money and you want to make sure your getting the most out of it.

Here are some shoes to consider:

High arch – K-swiss Kwicky QT2, New Balance Minimus Zero Road, Adidas Adipure, Under Armour Charge RC, Brooks Summon 3, Nike LunarEclipse+2, Ryka Transpire, Asics Gel-Blur33 TR, Reebok RealFlex Transition, Specialized Trivent Sport

Normal arch – K-swiss Kwicky, Asics GT-2170 G-TX, Vasque Velocity 2.0, New Balance Minimus Zero Road, Saucony ProgGrid Guide 5, Mizuno Wave Elixir 7, Nike LunarEclipse+2, Adidas Adipure, Brooks Summon 3, Under Armour Charge RC, Ryka Transpire, Asics Gel-Blur33 TR, Pumagility XT Elite, Specialized Trivent Sport

No arch – Asics GT-2170 G-TX, Vasque Velocity 2.0, Saucony ProGrid Guide 5, Mizuno Wave Elixir 7, Adidas Adipure, Brooks Summon 3, Ryka Transpire, Pumagility XT Elite, Specialized Trivent Sport

These are only a few choices, you can always go to your local sport store for more options.

I personally use Nike Free Run+2 or Vibram Five Fingers

Where do I sign up for a walking program?

Check out your local running room. They are always offering walking programs, and who knows, maybe you will even try one of their running programs in the future!

I don’t know any trails in my area.

Here are a few trail’s in the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge area

Kitchener – Victoria Park, Monarch Wood’s
Waterloo – Walter Bean Trail, Waterloo Park, Conestoga Conservation Area
Cambridge – Blair Trail, Mill Run Trail

Look online for trails/parks nearest you

To get the most out of your walks

  • Make sure that they are brisk enough to elevate your heart rate but just enough to allow you to be comfortable and allow you to talk.
  • Make a schedule! Your schedule has to be convenient for you. This will help you make a routine for yourself and encourage you to get out there.
  • Set goals for yourself. This again, encourages you and self motivates you to reach the goals you have planned. One day your goal could be 1km and the next it could be 2km, 3km etc. Start your walks 1 to 3 days a week and eventually increase the amount of days that you are walking.
  • Record your distance, time, and date. There is nothing better then looking at your progress and saying “I did it”

Stretching lightly after your walk will help increase muscle length and decrease any delay onset of muscle soreness.

Areas to stretch include: calves, low back, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

How long should I walk for?

It is recommended that everyone get 30 minutes of physical activity daily. If you walk for 10 minutes on your lunch break and 20 minutes home from work you have your 30 minutes right there. Walking 15 minutes on your lunch and 15 minutes when you get home adds up to your 30 minutes of physical activity as well!

Remember, the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do.

Good Luck!