While it may not be the most exciting workout, there’s no denying that a long walk is good for you. Walking is an easy, low-stress exercise that can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and several different types of cancer. It can also help you prevent osteoporosis as you grow older, due to walking being a weight-bearing exercise. As with any type of exercise, to avoid the risk of injury, you should consult your physician before you begin a new regimen to rule out any contraindicated health risks and treat any problems which may be aggravated by regular walking. Also remember to warm up before you begin walking, and to keep hydrated during your walk.
Once you’re given the all-clear to get started, here are a few tips for maximizing your walking regimen once you get yourself a pair of the best walking shoes for the money:
It’s not a good idea to jump right into a daily 10-mile uphill walk the first day. Besides the potential for injury, you can also risk fatiguing and burning yourself out too quickly. Start out slow and work your way up; for example, maybe start with a few laps around your high school’s track (if you’re permitted to use the track when P.E. students aren’t using it) or a couple laps around the block. Gradually increase the distance you are walking, being careful not to increase by more than 10% per week.
Strength and Speed
Here’s where the hills come in! Once you’ve got a good walking regimen established, gradually introduce a few hills to your routine. You don’t have to pretend you’re climbing Mt. Everest to get a good hill workout in; if you live near a few gentle inclines you can start off with those, then gradually build toward walking effortlessly up steeper hills. You can also do intervals while you are walking, such as speeding up your pace for the distance between two landmarks (such as telephone poles), then resuming your regular pace.
Upper Body Workout
You don’t have to ignore your upper body just because you’re walking. Try carrying a pair of lightweight hand weights while you’re out, and incorporate intervals of arm curls and raises to build your upper-body strength. However, never use ankle weights when walking! They put unnecessary stress on your joints and can stretch your muscles and ligaments in unnatural ways, both of which can lead to injury.
Don’t Forget to Rest!
There is nothing worse than pushing yourself too hard too fast and either injuring yourself or burning yourself out. If it’s the former, you could be laid up for days or weeks, with no guarantee you’ll even feel motivated to resume your workout once you recover. If the latter, you might always find an excuse not to work out, until you just forget about your regimen entirely. For these reasons, always incorporate rest and recovery days into your workout regimen. These rest days allow you to recuperate between workouts, easing any muscle soreness or minor injury, and allowing you to remain motivated for your next workout day. To avoid boredom with just walking every day, you might also look into other exercises to break up the monotony, like cross-training or Yoga. Also, make sure you’re eating properly and getting adequate sleep while you’re working out, so your body can heal and strengthen itself properly.
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