Ten Tips for Fitness Walking
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD
Walking is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to stay physically
fit. It's also a versatile form
that can be done indoors (many malls and public buildings offer walking routes)
or outdoors, and you can tailor the intensity of your exercise based upon your
individual abilities and goals. Whether you'd like to begin walking for exercise
or if you're already established in the habit, these tips can help you get the
most from your workout.
- Before starting a walking program, check with your
doctor if you have a chronic medical condition or if you have had a
recent injury. But don't assume that you aren't able to start exercise walking
if you do have medical issues. Exercise walking can help control disease
and relieve symptoms in people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and many people with arthritis or other
musculoskeletal problems will experience symptom relief from a medically-supervised exercise walking routine.
in good shoes. Since these are the only
expense and equipment you'll need, pay attention to the fit and quality of your shoes. Shoes should fit when you try
them on without any areas of pinching or pressure that could cause blisters or
calluses. Wear the type of socks you'll wear when walking when you purchase your
shoes, and remember that you'll likely need a larger-sized shoe than you
normally wear if you plan to wear thick socks. Shoes should have good arch
support and a slightly elevated heel with stiff material to support the heel
when walking and prevent wobbling.
- Always warm up by walking at a slow or
normal walking pace for five minutes before picking up the tempo of your
- Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing. Walk at a pace that challenges you and elevates your heart rate, but don't overdo. You should be
able to talk and carry on a conversation while you are exercising; if you can't,
you may be working too hard.
good walking posture. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
recommends maintaining the following posture when exercise walking: Swing your
arms. Keep your head up, back straight and abdomen flat. Point your toes
straight ahead. Take long strides, but don't strain.
- Consider getting a pedometer to track the distance you've walked or the number
of steps you've taken. Watching your improvement over time is a terrific source
- Be sure to carry water if you're walking long distances or are
exercising in hot weather. In very hot weather you may need fitness drinks or
other sources of electrolytes as well.
- In the heat of summer, don't forget to
wear a hat with a brim and to apply sunscreen to exposed areas.
- Vary your
route if you're getting bored. To increase your fitness, add a route with some
hills or changes in terrain. Or alternate routes on different days of the week.
Last Editorial Review: 4/26/2006
- Keep your workout interesting. Many people walk with a buddy or in groups
for support and motivation. While lots of walkers swear by their iPods to keep
them going, I prefer to pay extra attention to the sights and sounds around me.
Find the solution that keeps you moving.