Dr. Kathleen Jones
Walking for Aerobic Fitness
Walking has been studied more than any other form of exercise, and results confirm that you don’t have to take up an extreme sport or become a marathon runner to achieve the health benefits that come with regular aerobic exercise. Walking regularly has been found to reduce your risk of many serious diseases, improve your blood pressure, regulate your blood sugar, fight symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even increase your lifespan. Here's how to implement a walking routine today:
1. Schedule a checkup.
Before starting any new exercise routine, it’s always a good idea to have a checkup. Contact our office at 614-985-1435 to schedule a wellness appointment. We will walk you step by step through our specialized testing process so you can start your new routine with peace of mind.
2. Invest in the right footwear.
Wearing unsupportive shoes on walks puts you at a higher risk of muscle strains, joint problems, and falls. Plus, it’s uncomfortable! With the right pair of shoes, you’ll be able to walk for longer periods of time with minimal discomfort. Invest in a high-quality pair of walking shoes - your body will thank you.
3. Make a plan.
Think about how to set yourself up for success. Run through these questions: Where do you want to walk? How far do you want to walk? Do you want to walk alone or with a friend? If you’re walking in a new area, be sure to plan your route in advance and bring a map or GPS so you don’t lose your way. You can drive your walking route beforehand to determine the length of your route, or use a FitBit or step counting app. If you struggle to keep boredom at bay when walking, you can listen to music, podcasts, an audiobook, or bring a friend along.
4. Stretch beforehand.
Walking is a relatively low-impact activity, but any form of exercise that raises your heart rate should be accompanied by a good stretch beforehand. Stretching increases blood flow, helps protect your muscles and joints from injuries, and it’s also a good opportunity to get yourself in the right mindset for physical activity.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
It’s easier to become dehydrated than you might realize. If you exercise regularly, your body learns to adapt to the water loss, reducing the amount you sweat and conserving liquids as needed. Any time you’re beginning a new form of exercise, take extra care to get enough liquids - too much is better than not enough in this case.
6. Walk "right" !
Believe it or not, there actually is a right and a wrong way to walk. Even though you’re walking for exercise, try not to overthink it. If you’re trying to increase your speed, focus on taking shorter, faster steps instead of larger steps to help prevent tripping. Swing your arms naturally, and check in with yourself every few minutes to make sure you aren’t tensing your neck and shoulders. What about the number of steps? The 10,000 steps recommendation is a good goal, but you can get similar aerobic benefits from walking 7500. Several studies have shown that just 4400 steps per day, when done regularly and at a brisk pace, has significant health benefits.
Winderel, Amy. 2021. 9 Walking Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making. The Healthy.