These Boots Are Made For Walking!
When people ask me how to design an effective exercise regimen, I usually answer in one word: Walk! In my mind, walking is the most healthful form of physical activity and the best all-around conditioner for your body. It may seem tame compared with running or sweating it out on exercise equipment, but I have seen many people attain fitness through walking alone. Better still, walking requires no fancy gear, you can do it anywhere, and it carries the least risk of injury of nearly any form of exercise.
One dramatic study suggests that even a few bracing walks a month can have a remarkable effect on longevity: As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 1998, a Finnish study that traced some 16,000 twins for an average of 19 years found that those who took brisk half-hour walks as few as six times a month were 44 percent less likely to die than their sedentary twins. A host of other studies show that walking can reduce stress, boost energy, burn calories, lower blood pressure, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and reduce the risk of diabetes and osteoporosis. Walking also benefits the brain: Its cross-patterned (right leg/left arm) movement generates electrical activity that harmonizes the entire nervous system.
If you don’t already follow a walking program, anytime is the perfect time to get started. Here are five tips to maximize the health benefits of walking – whether along a country road, through an urban mall, or (if weather or air quality dictate) atop a treadmill with your headphones on.
- Wear supportive shoes. I find that good running shoes with well-cushioned heels and insoles work best for me. Opt for shoes that are lightweight and flexible, and buy them late in the day, when your feet are at their largest. Most athletic stores also carry double-layer socks that help wick away perspiration and prevent blisters.
- Start out slowly. If you are just beginning a walking program, I advise building up to your goal – a 45-minute walk at least 5 days a week – over an eight-week period. For the first week, walk 10 minutes a day average; for the second week, 15 minutes; for the third, 20 minutes; and so on. Vary the frequency, intensity and time during each workout as you build up your training program to prevent overtraining. Walking programs should also incorporate stretching; here is a great resource:
- Practice good posture. Proper posture while walking fosters good respiration and blood circulation and prevents back strain. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders, and look ahead, not at your feet.
- Pick up the pace. If you’re ready to, walk faster, take quicker steps, not longer ones. Walking 140 steps a minute will get you cruising at four miles per hour, a pace that will give your cardiovascular system a great workout.
- Walk whenever you can. Research at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, in Dallas, indicates that fitting in extra steps throughout the day may offer health benefits similar to a gym workout. Walk, don’t drive to nearby stores; take the stairs not the elevator; pick the parking space farthest from the mall (Andrew Weil, Self Healing Magazine, April 1998).
Movement is the key – move your body, your mind, and your emotions with walking. Of course, with Chiropractic care we move your joints and the benefits are remarkable! Movement is the manifestation of life, so get those boots walking!
Is a walking program is right for you? If you are a patient in our Sacramento chiropractic office, ask me. If you are not a patient in our office, ask your qualified healthcare professional.
-Dr. Jeri Anderson, Sacramento Chiropractor