Walking for health has many benefits: it is the greatest contributor to maintaining healthy weight, it staves off Type II diabetes, it improves cardiovascular health, has been proven to combat depression, contributes to overall physical functioning and also keeps dementia at bay.
While our exercise programs can get easily derailed in November and December, Michigan in July beckons us to at least get out and walk. Indeed, walking is the most popular exercise regimen for all Americans. But, not all walking is equal. For the greatest health benefit, here are some tips to “walking the line”:
- Walk more. In general, in order to maintain cardiovascular health, 30 minutes of accumulated moderate exercise nearly daily is recommended, and is a very achievable goal. If you are also trying to lose weight, it may take closer to 60 minutes of sustained exercise.
- Walk fast. A slow amble is better than sitting at home watching the Weather Channel. But a recent large-scale study of walkers in the National Walker’s Health Study indicated that ponderously slow walkers had a higher than average mortality. This could mean that the slow pace wasn’t aiding the poky walkers. It could also indicate that slow walking was a sign of other underlying health concerns.
- Time your walking. Either time yourself on a marked track of use any kind of phone app that measures distance and time. Try to get yourself to a 16 minute mile. And be aware: if your walking is 24 minutes per mile or slower, then consider seeing a health professional.
- Look at your walking shoes. If they are wearing in unpredictable places or even mildly uncomfortable, take your shoes and your feet to a reputable shoe store and find good-fitting shoes for your foot and gait.
- Walk in the familiar: For lots of exercisers, the easiest walk to be motivated for is the one in the old neighborhood. Familiar terrain and no surprises make it easy to keep track of time and mileage and you never feel lost. Familiarity breeds contentment.
- Take a walk on the wild side: For other walkers, the same route day after day brings boredom and saps motivation. If you want to take an adventure and see new sights, consider the variety of hiking trails all over Michigan. You can check out this site to find a huge selection of former railroad lines that have been converted to hiking trails: http://www.traillink.com/trailsearch.aspx?state=MI
- Walk in good form. Walk upright, keep your arms bent at 90 degrees and your hands and arms relaxed. Avoid overstriding.
Always consult with your physician before embarking on any exercise regimen.