When was the last time you had to shovel your front porch or scrape the ice off of your car? If it’s been more than a few weeks, then spring may actually be here in Michigan. It’s true that April snowshowers happen, too. But odds are that it is warm enough and the sidewalks and roads are clear enough that you can get back to walk.
If you’re a regular walker, you don’t need much preparation. Just lace up the shoes and get out there. But, if there’s a permanent dent on your couch since the fall, you might need to baby yourself before embarking on a walking program.
Here are some tips to get you on the road:
- Try on your shoes. If you’ve lost weight or gained weight, the fit might not be right. Walk with them in the house for a while and determine if they are comfortable and in good enough shape.
- Set the mood for your walk. If you need a partner, find one. If you prefer meditative walking, pick a time to walk when you won’t be bothered by landscapers, children, or lots of obstacles in your path. If you need music to motivate you, get your playlist ready. Or maybe you like podcasts or audio books.
- Get your gear on. Do check the temperature and wind before you leave. It’s better to wear layers in order to stay warm and strip them off if you become overheated. If the temperature is below 40 degrees, starting off with a hat and gloves will be more comfortable, but you may want to take them off later. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and even a hat.
- Stretch and move before you walk. No more static stretches where you stay in one position and hold it before you walk; the latest science says that you just need to increase your range of motion and get your blood flowing for five minutes before exercising in earnest. This can be accomplished through toe touches, twists, arm circles, jumping jacks (which can be one-legged if the traditional kind is too taxing) and a boxer shuffle.
- Hit the road. Walking is great. We all know how to do it and we have mastered it for a long time. Find a route that is safe and interesting. If you have no stamina, walk for 10 minutes and then turn around and go back. If this is your only exercise, try to work up to 30 minutes of walking per day.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a bit before your walk, drink if you need to during your walk and drink again when you return.
- Cool down. If your walk is vigorous, then walk at a slower pace before you stop exercising altogether. After your walk, you can do some of those static stretches including hamstring stretches and quadriceps stretches.
- Evaluate, recalibrate and go back out again. Reflect on your walk. What was good? Did you think you wanted to be alone but then you were uneasy? Did you pick a road that had poor sidewalk conditions? Do the dogs on the corner annoy you? Change what didn’t work and hit the road the next time with the changes in mind.
Walking is America’s most favorite exercise. It’s easy, it’s cheap and requires no equipment. Walking is of great benefit for many conditions that cause pain. We encourage all of our patients to hit the road.