Walking Exercise: Simple and Natural

Walking exercise is great for all ages and physical levels. It’s the most natural form of exercise that easily fits into any daily routine and it’s easy to modify from a low impact workout to a high intensity one. Walking is a simple, safe exercise that only requires a good, comfortable pair of shoes and comfortable clothing.

Walking exercise can be a great start to a new exercise program or a great addition to an already established exercise routine. We can take advantage of walking many times during the day; we can take the stairs, park farther away, walk instead of drive or go for a walk at lunchtime. It’s a great way to get the heart pumping and get some fresh air as well.

Since walking is easy on the joints it’s an exercise most often preferred. Walking provides the many health benefits that other forms of exercise offer and can easily be modified to suit individual needs and physical levels. Just like any cardio exercise there are certain tips we must follow to get the most out of walking exercises.

Helpful Walking Tips:

  • Starting a new exercise program? Start slow. Ten to fifteen minutes per day is a great start while slowly adding 5 minutes each week or when it feels comfortable.
  • Breathe deep, slow breaths; in through the nose, out through the mouth.
  • Maintain good posture. Shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Hold your head up and look straight ahead, always be aware of your surroundings, especially in high traffic areas.
  • Start with a slow warm-up walk and end the exercise session with a slow cool-down walk. Five minutes for each is fine.
  • Keep proper form, walk heel to toe.
  • Keep the tummy tight and chest up. This helps to strengthen the core muscles and maintain proper posture.
  • Enjoy the walk, think about good things or listen to favourite music.

Increase the Intensity:

  • Gradually increase the speed or duration of the walk.
  • Speed/Power Walk; maintain a steady brisk walk to increase heart rate.
  • Add hills. Hills are a great way to increase intensity and heart rate.
  • Walk on rough terrain such as; sand, dirt or grassy land.
  • Hike on a trail. Wear proper gear.
  • Add stair climbing into the walk routine.
  • Interval walking; Alternate walking quickly and slowly, one minute for each. Repeat.
  • Switch directions. Alternate walking forward and backward, a few minutes for each. Repeat. Be aware of your surroundings.

Helpful Gear and Ideas:

  • Wear a heart rate monitor/watch to keep track of heart rate and progress.
  • Select comfortable walking shoes.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers, so you can remove a layer if you get too hot.
  • Make a "walking music mix" to keep you pumped.
  • Join a walking club, go with a friend or take the kids in the stroller.
  • Wear a hat and gloves on colder days.
  • Use a walking/hiking stick which helps; distribute weight, balance and keep footing on rough terrain.
  • Participate in mall/arena walking on cold or rainy days.
  • Purchase a treadmill and walk in the comfort of your own home.

Walking is a great form of exercise. It can be modified to suit all intensity levels offering many variations; choose one that reflects your physical level. Walk alone or with a dog, join a walking club, or walk with friends or family. It’s natural, safe, easy to do and great for all ages. Enjoy the outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and receive the many health benefits from walking exercises.

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