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Walking is one of the greatest forms of exercise out there. Not only is it great for losing weight, but it has been proven to help boost cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles and bones, improve mood, increase mobility, and so much more!
However, before you take on a walking program, there are some tips to take into consideration. We’re here to fill you in to make sure you plan for success and accomplish all of your goals.
Speak to Your Doctor
Before you do anything else, we highly recommend you speak to your general physician. They should know all about how long and how often you plan on walking for on an average week, where you’ll be going, and what type of walking you plan on doing. Your GP will be able to give you feedback and offer recommendations based on your health and any conditions you may have that could be affected by a new walking program.
Get the Right Gear
Just like any physical activity, you must have the right clothing and equipment to make the most out of it. One of the great things about walking is that you don’t really need any “equipment” to do it, but you do need the right clothing and shoes.
No matter what the weather is, you do need moisture-wicking clothing. You may be thinking to bundle up in the warmest clothes possible when it’s cold outside but sweat will actually make you even colder. Your goal is to stay warm and dry, and sports-specific clothing will help you accomplish just that.
Leggings and other compression is ideal for most, as it helps improve circulation and sits snug against the body which helps keep heat close to the skin. Remember that if it’s cold outside to layer a compression top with at least a jacket as well.
A dedicated walking shoe is just as important as your clothing. It will offer you stability and help keep you light on your feet, while helping correct any gait issues you may currently have. No matter if you overpronate, have plantar fasciitis, or some other ailment, there’s sure to be a walking shoe that will suit you. No matter which one you select though, make sure they’re low-heeled and non-skid on the bottoms.
Select Your Walking Surface
Where are you planning on doing your walking? If you don’t have a spot outdoors that’s ideal for it, we implore you to check out a treadmill that comes packed with safety features so you feel safe and confident. However, if you are heading outside, then make sure you select somewhere that’s smooth, free of debris, and ideally offers a bit of forgiveness.
Hard surfaces like pavement or even asphalt can be hard on the joints due to how much impact it tends to cause. If you are dealing with joint issues such as your ankles, knees, hips, and even feet, then you’ll probably be better off with packed dirt/sand routes, or even well-kept grassy spaces. Again, treadmills are also great alternatives as most high-quality options will come with impact-absorbing features to take a lot of that stress off of your joints.
Be Careful of Certain Weather Conditions
It’s always important to try and plan your walks a bit in advance, if possible. Check out the weather conditions for the week and plan accordingly. If you notice it’s going to be particularly, hot, cold, and/or wet, then avoid those days or walk indoors on a treadmill.
Cold weather conditions can be dangerous as sidewalks and paths tend to get slippery and can even develop a thin layer of ice on them. Of course, dirt paths are still quite safe in this regard but if you’ll be on a sidewalk you may want to avoid wet days. The cold can also invoke numbness, which can make it hard to feel any possible pain.
You also don’t want to go out when it’s super-hot or humid out, as this can cause exhaustion, fatigue, and dehydration to set in rather quickly. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t walk when it’s hot. Just make sure that you’re staying hydrated and taking breaks in the shade every now and then.
Try to Go Walking with Others
Walking is a great way to get the blood pumping, but also serves as an excellent accompaniment to good conversation. Talking and walking can really get your thoughts out and allow for self-reflection but is also fun to pass the time with friends.
If you don’t have any friends who’d like to join, then check out walking clubs! You can often discover these by word of mouth, at the bulletin board at your local gym, and even at most local sports stores. Walking with others is not only motivating and helps make it more interesting, but it’s also much safer. If you happen to fall or twist an ankle, etc., you’ll have someone there to help or at least call for help.
Safety is the Priority
Always try to always carry a cell phone with you in case of emergencies. On top of that, your clothing should be easily visible, particularly at night. If you’ll be walking in the dark or dimly lit hours then also make sure that you have reflective pieces on your clothing and/or shoes. If you ever feel pain while walking, make sure to immediately stop when you can and rest.
Moreover, try to always carry a cell phone with you in case of emergencies.
Don’t Rush Things
Remember, there’s no need to rush when you’re walking. It’s better to finish at a slower pace and feel great than pull a muscle or become lightheaded because you felt like you needed to move faster. Focus on your posture and the actual act of walking instead.
Now that you have a better understanding of what you should be doing when starting a new walking routine, do you feel like you’re ready to get started? We hope that our guide has been able to help you learn where to start and how to be successful. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again shortly! Happy walking and remember to focus on health and safety above all!