Whether you are an athlete in the prime of life, an elderly person or someone recuperating from an illness, walking is one form of exercise that nearly everyone can, and should, participate in. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and the will. In many physiotherapy programs, walking forms the basis of treatment. Walking as a form of exercise costs you nothing and has many benefits which we will explore in this article.
How to start a walking program:
Before you begin walking or any type of exercise, you should first consult a health care professional. The rate at which you begin walking will depend on your physical condition. If you have been ill or have followed a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, do not try to do a three-mile sprint during your lunch break. Take it slowly at first, wear comfortable clothing, sturdy shoes and don’t forget to breathe. If you cannot breathe easily while you walk, you are going too fast. If you are walking with someone you should be able to speak, but not sing, without becoming short of breath.
Who may benefit from walking:
Walking benefits everyone. If you are in the peak of health, walking can help maintain your condition, but if you are recovering from illness or injury, walking is a safe and effective means of regaining stamina and conditioning weak muscles.
Walking is highly recommended for:
- Cardiac rehabilitation: walking is a major part of therapy for persons recovering from a cardiac condition.
- Stroke rehabilitation: helps correct gait abnormality and increase strength.
- Sports injury: repairs damaged tissue, strengthens muscle and promotes healing.
- Arthritis: relieves pain and improves joint flexibility.
- Diabetics: helps the body metabolise sugar, thereby decreasing glucose levels in the blood.
- Obesity: increases metabolism, reduces fat, tones and strengthens muscles.
- Osteoporosis: the weight-bearing mechanism of walking helps increase bone mass.
Walking is a whole-body exercise which benefits not just your leg muscles, but your upper body, heart and lung muscles as well. It tones and conditions the body, helping you lose weight, feel better and look better. Walking increases endorphins (the feel-good hormones), and if you walk outdoors you receive the added benefit of Vitamin D which strengthens bones. If you are thinking of beginning a walking program and don’t know where or how to start, come in and see us. We will give you all the help you need.