walking for physical activity

Fitness Essentials : Walking

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Walking is as simple as it gets for fitness. All you need is a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothing, and desire. Start walking towards a healthier you. Walking forms an essential part of our Activity Pyramid too.

Plan your routine. If you walk every morning, that’s perhaps the best! For it is during mornings when you beat all the traffic and catch the freshest air after the pollution has long settled down. Nature is just waking up with all its sound and visual beauty and most of us would love to witness it all during our walk.

Make it a habit! Usually it works best to have more-or-less the same time everyday for a walk. Form a routine – Morning or evening – whatever works for you (I know of some who have been walking even at 4 in the afternoon!) Afterall some exercise is better than none at all!

Build up your walk. Get Started. If you’re not active now, start walking three times a week at a stroll for 20 minutes.  Add five minutes to your walks next week (total walking time 20-25 minutes). Keep adding 5 minutes until you are walking as long as desired. Then start walking every day.

Distance or time? Some walkers focus on distance, others target time. Finally, it all boils down to speed. So use both distance and time as well as heart rate. Any reasonable health gadget or fit-bit will be able to track the heart rate while you walk. What should your heart rate be? “Most recommendations suggest starting out at 70% to 75% of your maximum heart rate,” Dr Neelam Patel, Sports Physiotherapist from ReLivaTM says. “But this may not be enough if you’re fit.”

How much is good ? Walking daily will help (a minimum of 5 days a week is a good goal). You should walk fast enough to maximize the benefits but a good thumb rule to judge it is that you should not be gasping for air.

If you are walking for weight loss you should walk a minimum of five days a week, 45 to 60 minutes at a brisk pace. ReLivaTM suggests “Talk test” to check your pace – You may consider the pace of walk to be good enough when you are walking fast, yet you can hold a conversation (atleast 4-5 word sentence) comfortably while walking.

As you start your walking routine, remember to:

  1. Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk outdoors very early in the morning when it is almost dark, wear white or bright colors or a windsheeter (during monsoons 7 winters) with reflective tape for visibility.
  2. Carry a reasonable size napkin or sweat cloth so you can wipe yourself dry and not get hassled with the sweat trickling on your face and neck.
  3. Drink up water before you begin. Proper hydration is very important as you are likely to loose important nutrients alongwith the sweat. If you are planning to walk for a long time, it may be nice idea to carry a small water bottle along.
  4. Choose your walking path If you’ll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with broken sidewalks, potholes, puddles, uneven pebbled roads or slippery tracks.
  5. Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for a brisker walk to exercise.
  6. Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down and taper off the routine.
  7. Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. It may be a good idea to stretch before as well as after you walk.

There really are so many benefits for such a simple activity! Hope you are making the most of it!

Don’t forget to leave your memorable moments or anecdotes related to your walking routine with us in the comments section below.

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