Everyone knows that you have to be active in order to be healthy, there are no cheats or short cuts – it’s simply a fact of life. However, getting up and moving for better health doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend hours a day at the gym, lifting weights and killing yourself on various complicated machines, to achieve desirable results. In fact, it doesn’t take much to reap the benefits of better health. Something as simple as walking briskly for as little as 12 minutes every other day can have dramatic effects on your body, including improved cardiovascular endurance, reduced risks of heart disease, and a toned lower body! Of course, if you really want to see the results, it’s recommended that you attempt to walk for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Other tips to help you make the most of every step while walking are:
Buying the Right Footwear
Way too many people opt for fashion rather than function when choosing their walking shoes, which often leads to improper physical alignment resulting in significant pain. If you want to make sure you are able to walk longer without consequence, buying the right footwear is a great place to start. Good walking shoes need to:
- Fit correctly, with the balls of your feet resting right where the shoe’s toe bends during the course of your natural step.
- Have plenty of cushioning inside to effectively absorb the impact of your steps. This is especially important for people with existing musculoskeletal problems, even if you are walking at a slower pace.
Make sure you try the shoes on and wear them around the store for at least 10 minutes to really get an idea of what they will feel like when you’re walking in them at home, or wherever. Also keep in mind the type of socks you plan to wear when exercising to ensure that they fit comfortably in the shoes. And, of course, like you would a car, you need to remember to always replace your shoes after every 300-500 miles. If you walk about a mile a day, five days a week, this means you will likely need a new pair of walking shoes every one or two years depended on how rough you are on them.
Choosing the Right Walking Surface
Aside from making sure your chosen walking area is free from any human/auto traffic that could get in your way, choosing the right walking surface is essential.
- Best: The best surfaces for walking are special rubberized/cushioned tracks. These surfaces are ideally designed for walking and will help absorb most of the impact of each step you take. They can typically be found at any local recreation center and used free of charge.
- Good: Both grass and sand are other popular surface options for walkers, but they can also each come with their own downsides. Grass does a decent job absorbing the shock of your steps, but can also be an unreliable walking surface due to its naturally uneven terrain. One hole or unexpected slant and you could go tumbling. Sand on the other hand, is actually a renowned running surface for athletes. It provides excellent resistance and forces your body to work harder; however, walking exclusively on sand can be very damaging to your Achilles tendon, and can ultimately lead to full-on tendonitis if you’re not careful. Of course, if you just happen to be at the beach for a day, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of the numerous health benefits of taking a long walk on the sand.
- Poor: Concrete, marble, stone, or any other unforgiving surfaces should be avoided at all cost when walking continuously for any length of time. The lack of cushion means that your body is taking on all the weight and impact of your every step. Walking on such a hard surface for too long will definitely cause pain.
You can also try switching between walking on flat surfaces and slanted surfaces to maximize your results and help keep your spine symmetrical.
- Relax and let your arms move freely with you.
- Keep your head up. Staring at the ground will only misalign the rest of your body and cause you more pain, as well as make you more likely to sustain an injury.
- Don’t carry any weights or additional gear with you while you’re walking. Instead, focus on maintaining proper form and breath control.
- Make sure when you walk that you’re walking “with purpose” and not just taking a relaxing stroll. You don’t have to move fast, just make your body works for every step.
- Stay hydrated! This is most likely the most important step of them all. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages, like soda or energy drinks, and make sure you’re drinking at least half your own body weight in ounces of water every day to keep from becoming dehydrated.
- Expect minor pain and soreness when getting back in shape, but know when what you’re feeling is too much. Always seek professional medical help if you even think you might need it to avoid long-term physical damage.
If you’re getting back in shape and you want to make sure your body is ready to keep up with you step for step, consider taking advantage of our many health and wellness services at Balanced Health & Wellness. After all, our specialists are always motivated to help new clients achieve their goals and live their best lives – one step at a time!
If you are looking for a highly-trained and experienced chiropractor anywhere in southern Michigan, call Balanced Health & Wellness today at 248.397.8122 or simply fill out the form in the sidebar to schedule your appointment.