The cold winds of winter have passed and spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming, gentle breezes touch your skin, and the sun is warming up the earth. You feel the urge to get out, get moving, and enjoy the beautiful weather. You've been wanting to start exercising, and you've heard that walking is a great way to start (it is!)
Here are five steps to help you get started with a daily walking routine this spring:
1. Check with your doctor. If it has been a long time since you have walked, or if you have a chronic health condition, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. The chances are that she will be thrilled that you are planning to exercise, and will be able to offer advice on how much you should try to do starting out, as well as any precautions you should take.
2. Get the right shoes. Many athletic shoe companies now make shoes specifically designed for walking. You will need shoes with a flexible sole and a low, supportive heel, because your heel will strike the ground first and then role to the ball of the foot as you walk. Your shoes should be lightweight, breathable, and fit properly. And if you tend to roll your foot to one side or the other as you walk, you may need special shoes or orthotic inserts. Stores that sell running shoes often have sales people who are trained to evaluate your gait and help you choose just the right shoe. If you haven't purchased walking shoes in a while, this can be a great resource to make sure you get shoes that will help you be comfortable and safe while walking.
3. Learn to walk properly. What do you mean? I've been walking since I was a baby! But as we age, and our joints get stiffer, we tend to lose some of the mobility we had when we were younger. If you walk using bad posture or incorrect technique, you will end up with aches and pains you don't want (and that could derail your exercise plans - been there, done that!) Stand tall, tuck your bottom under your hips as you walk, and maintain a loose, comfortable stride. Look forward, not down, and relax your shoulders and arms.
4. Stretch. Before and after your walk, take a few minutes to gently stretch your muscles in your legs, back, arms, and shoulders.
5. Start slowly. Walk for short distances to begin with and focus on enjoying yourself and taking in the surroundings. Gradually increase the distance and time you spend walking each day, as well as your speed, as you build your endurance. And change up your route to maintain your interest and motivation.
Do you need support to build your walking routine? Join us in our Facebook group!