You're probably excited at the prospect of starting your walking program to improve your fitness. However, as with all forms of exercise, there are a few essential safety tips to follow.
1. Check with your doctor
Before starting, check in with your doctor to make sure you are well enough to walk. Those with a chronic health problem, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes may get special instructions from the doctor about things to watch out for.
2. Don’t fall for the myth of ‘no pain, no gain’.
Pain is a sign something is wrong. Listen to your body. And if you experience chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, or shortness of breath with walking or any exercise, see your doctor.
3. Start slowly
Don’t try to get up to the suggested goal of 10,000 steps per day overnight. See how many steps you are doing already in the course of your regular routine, and gradually add a few hundred more steps per day until you reach your goal.
4. Buy proper-fitting walking shoes
Walking shoes should fit well and offer good support for the feet and cushioning for your joints as you stride along. Search for “walking shoe” online, and the brand New Balance, for solid and affordable shoes.
5. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down
Start each session with some gentle stretching. Then start to walk, and gradually pick up speed. At the end of your walk, slow down to cool down and finish off with some gentle stretching which is smooth, not jerky.
6. Observe good walking form
To avoid injury, you should walk with your chin up, shoulders slightly back, and toes pointed forward. Your heel should strike the ground first, and your weight should then roll forward onto the ball of your foot. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and swing or pump your arms at your sides as you walk. Try not to clench your fists.
7. Check your speed with the talk test
If you can carry on a full conversation normally, you are walking too slowly. If you are so out of breath you can barely speak, you are walking too fast.
8. Stick to a schedule.
Pencil in your dedicated walking sessions on your calendar and treat them as seriously as you would a doctor’s appointment.
Follow these safety tips and you should soon see great results from your new walking program.