“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche (I totally agree :))
There is no quick, simple answer to the question about the effectiveness of walking. Although walking is an easy and affordable way to exercise, it truly depends on how much effort one puts into it. So let’s delve deeper into walking and find out if it is right for you…
Tips for Proper Walking
To turn your regular walk into a real fitness stride, you need to maintain both purposeful movements and great posture. This list should give you a pretty good idea on how effective walking looks:
- Keep your head up.
- Look forward.
- Avoid looking at the ground.
- Keep your back relaxed.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Keep your neck relaxed.
- Keep your elbows bent slightly.
- Swing your arms loosely.
- For a higher intensity workout, swing your arms even more.
- Keep your stomach muscles slightly tensed.
- Keep your back straight, as if there is a string on the top of your head pulling you up from the sky.
- Walk smoothly.
- Roll your foot from heel to toe.
- Avoid pounding your feet on the ground.
What Else Should I Know?
A brisk daily walk can help you life a longer, healthier life. Walking is also helpful in maintaining your optimal weight. It can also help us improve our mood. And, it helps enhance your coordination and balance. And it can improve your circulation and endurance. And it has been shown to increase creativity and productivity. All that from such a simple activity!
Experts seem to agree that most adults should aim for about 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity each day, on most days of the week. Guidelines suggest having a goal of about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
Walking is a great exercise for those who are obese or those with back, hip, or knee issues because it is low impact. Keep in mind that the faster, the farther, and the more often that you walk, the better results that you will get.
Best Walking Advice
Here are some of my favorite tips for getting the most out of walking:
- Wear shoes or sneakers that are meant for walking.
- Your footwear should support your arches well and provide a firm foundation on the sole and heel.
- Choose socks that help absorb shock and moisture to help keep you comfortable.
- Select clothing in visible colors, especially if you are walking near the street.
- Wear clothing with reflective tape or materials if you are walking at dusk or night.
- Plan ahead for the weather and wear water-resistant clothing if needed.
- Stretch both before and after your walk.
- Only walk where you will be safe. Avoid potholes and uneven sidewalks.
- If it is hot and sunny, consider wearing a hat and sunscreen with SPF 30+.
- Consider places to walk indoors, such as shopping malls.
- Find a walking club in your area.
- Start your own walking club.
- Walk in well-lit areas.
- Find hills to walk on to increase cardiovascular fitness.
- Stay well hydrated before, during and after your walk.
- Take a walk after a meal to help boost your metabolism.
- Add extra walking during every day tasks, such as parking farther from the grocery store.
- Keep an extra pair of walking shoes in your car – you might have the chance to take a quick walk.
Making Walking Even More Fun and Interesting
Let’s face it, it is easier to stick with something if we find it to be highly enjoyable. Here are my best tips:
- Wear an activity tracker. To read my related article on that topic, please click here.
- Keep a walking journal. Looking back on your accomplishments is a great motivator!
- Find times to walk and schedule them on your calendar.
- Vary your walking routine by finding different paths to take.
- Try listening to your favorite music while you walk.
- Learn to love the stairs (avoid the escalator or elevator).
- Buy a fun new water bottle.
- Freeze water in your bottle, as it will melt along the way and stay nice and cold.
- Take your dog for a nice walk.
- Ask your child, a neighbor, a co-worker, or a friend to join you for a walk.
- Plan a walk with your family and help your loved ones enjoy better health.
- Walk in nature, which is an instant mood-booster.
- Try varying your intensity during your walk to turn it into an effective interval workout.
- Carry 1-2 lb hand weights.
- Avoid ankle weights, as they can cause injuries.
- Use a walking stick.
- Set realistic goals. For example, 10,000 steps per day is a popular goal for walking each day. Start with 500o steps and work up.
- To calculate how quickly you are walking, divide the total number of steps you walk in one minute by 30. For example, 90 steps per minute would be equivalent to walking 3 mph.
- Find a walking race to train for, such as a 5K.
Putting it all together…
As someone who has been an avid walker for decades, I believe that walking is one of the best exercises ever. It can be done by almost anyone, almost anywhere, almost anytime. It’s free, easy, and fun. And it can also help us sleep better at night.
Before you begin a walking exercise program, you should let your doctor know. This is especially important if you are obese, have any chronic health conditions, or have not exercised in a while.
Physical activity doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. And it doesn’t get much simpler than walking. All that you really need is a good pair of shoes. Now that you have read my primer on everything you need to know about walking, go take that first step! You will immediately feel better.
Remember what Hippocrates said… “Walking is man’s best medicine. ”
Walking can be a wonderful way to clear your head and refresh your soul. It is also a great stress-reliever. If you love walking as much as I do, please leave me a comment below. I appreciate any tips or techniques that you can share! Thanks!