Return to walking… safely!
With spring finally here, it’s a great time to get out and back into your walking routine, or start one up! Walking benefits not only your physical health, but your emotional and mental health as well. With any exercise, it is a good idea to begin gradually to avoid injuries, and remember to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
How much should I walk?
If you are trying to maintain your weight and at the same time increase your heart, lungs and muscle tone, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of walking per day, most days of the week. If losing weight is your goal, then 60 minutes of exercise per day, most days of the week, is recommended.
If you can’t find 30 or 60 minutes a day, you can break it up into smaller segments of 10-15 minutes (but no less than 10) per day.
How fast should I walk?
If you’re able to, then 3.5 – 4 mph is recommended for fitness walking. But if that is too fast, don’t push yourself! Start at a pace that is comfortable for you, and then increase the amount of time, not the speed.
How do I get started?
If you haven’t been physically active in a while, start out walking 10 minutes at a time. Starting slow can prevent injuries to muscles and joints. If you feel out of breath and tired after 10 minutes of walking, stop and enjoy your accomplishment!
· Increase the amount of time you walk gradually; no more than 10% from week to week.
· Use the “talk test:” If you cannot say a single sentence because you are breathing too heavily, you are walking too hard; if you are able to sing, you aren’t walking hard enough,
· Consider the “hard/easy” rule. One workout should be hard for you (walking faster or longer than what is comfortable), and the next day’s workout should be easy. If you are just beginning, take the day off after a “hard” walk.
· Poor posture can lead to injury. Be aware of your arms, neck and breathing to make the most of your walk.
Warm-up and Cool Down
It is important to warm-up before each walk by slowly walking or marching in place for 5-10 minutes before you start your normal walking pace. When you feel warm and your breathing has become a little quicker, you’re ready to go! Stretching before a walk is not necessary. The best time to stretch is when you are warm, after the walk.