New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Health

Walking Can Often Be THE BEST MEDICINE

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to loose weight and stay healthy is closer that you think. It’s your own two feet, of course!!!!!! Not only is it free, but you can do it almost anytime and anywhere. The following are a few tips to ensure a safe and effective walking program.

Start out with a good pair of walking shoes. They are specifically designed to give you flexibility, proper support and the proper push off which is needed when walking. Try to find shoes that are lightweight, flexible and feel comfortable. Avoid shoes that may need a “breaking in” period.

It is important to remain hydrated. Drink at least 8 ounces of water prior to walking and avoid the hottest parts of the day (12-3). Remember to use sunscreen on all exposed parts of your body and re-hydrate throughout the day.

Next, set your pace. Most experts recommend to start with a 15 or 30 minute daily walk.Gradually increase by adding 5-10 minutes per week.

For health maintenance, walk 30 minutes a day at a “talking” pace, which means you can carry on a conversation while walking.

For weight loss, walk 45-60 minutes everyday at a medium to fast pace. Do not miss more than 2 days a week.

For aerobic fitness, walk 20 minutes 3-4 times a week at a very fast pace. You should be breathing hard.

Before and after walking, it is a good idea to gently stretch your muscles. This prevents being sore in the AM, gets the blood circulating and prepares the body for exercise. A few easy stretches include ankle and arm circles, reaching overhead and bending to the opposite side. Warm up should be done for approximately 5 minutes.

There are certain precautions you should take to maintain safety while walking. Always try to walk on sidewalks or facing traffic.

Be aware of your surroundings

Always carry an ID and cell phone for emergencies

If walking in the evening, wear reflective gear or carry a flashlight.

If you have any health issues such as heart problems or diabetes, please consult your physician before starting any exercise regime.

We all know how hard it is to stay motivated. Try to find a walking buddy or join a walking /hiking club.

You may not notice any immediate physical changes but soon enough you will have more energy and feel better.