There is a common misconception that walking is not exercise. A lot of people believe that in order to be healthy and to lose weight, you need to do high impact exercise. Luckily, this is not the case. Studies have shown that walking provides great overall cardiovascular fitness, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, lowers cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, helps alleviate lower back pain, and reduces the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. Walking also alleviates stress and depression and improves your immunity as well.
Additional benefits of walking include stimulating creativity and problem solving skills, as well as being used as a form of meditation. Walking gives you the opportunity to be outdoors in the fresh air and the chance to watch the seasons change. It is also the perfect way to get away from phones, pagers, faxes, e-mail, and other interruptions. And, in addition to all these great benefits, walking is safe, easy, and cheap. What more can you ask for? Get out there and start walking!
(Consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program if you are sedentary, a 40+ male, or a 50+ female.)
Stretch first to warm up your muscles. You should concentrate on stretching your torso, quadriceps, hamstring, gluteal muscles (buttocks), calves, and Achilles' tendon (heel). Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds each, repeating at least once for each muscle group and being careful not to bounce.
Shoes - Choose a comfortable, lightweight shoe that has shock absorbers in the heel and in the ball of the shoe. It should also bend at the widest part of the shoe. The back of the shoe should be soft and contoured to help your foot roll forward.
Socks - Wear white synthetic socks or white synthetic/cotton blend socks because colored dyes can aggravate athlete's foot. The heel and toe should be padded and, to prevent blisters, there should be no toe seams. The center of the sock should also have a tight weave to prevent bunching and slippage.
Hat/Visor - Wear a hat in the early morning hours to keep warm and a visor on hot days to protect your face from the sun and to allow the heat from your head to escape, keeping you cool.
Pedometer - for keeping track of how many miles you are walking.
Calorie Burn Counter - to help keep you motivated if you are trying to achieve weight loss.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Edel Jarboe. All Rights Reserved.
Edel Jarboe is the founder of Self Help for Her (Webmaster's note: website is gone), an online self-help magazine helping you create your better life. She also publishes a free weekly newsletter, which features advice on goal setting, stress management, coping with difficult people, and overcoming obstacles .
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