Walking outside is an amazing form of exercise. Completely different from walking on a treadmill inside, walking outside provides both physical and mental health benefits. Not only does it raise our heart rate, but it also gets us in the sunlight and engages our brains. It has a powerful effect on many chronic conditions and helps to avoid future complications. There are both low-impact and bone-building benefits to this form of exercise. That’s pretty amazing. So are you ready to go for a walk outside yourself? Follow these helpful tips to get started.
It is worth investing in a good pair of shoes that are specifically designed for walking. Look for shoes that feel stable, yet flexible, and have good arch support. The heel counter, which holds the back of the heel underneath the Achilles tendon, should cup the heel in a snug but comfortable position. This will help keep your foot from rotating inward or outward when you walk.
After a short warm-up, lightly stretch all extremities and spine, paying special attention to the Achilles tendon and calves before every walk. Maintain proper body position and stride; stand tall with head up and core muscles engaged. Relax the shoulders and lightly swing the arms with a slight elbow bend. Wearing compression sleeves can help refresh and support your muscles.
Aim for a “rolling” motion in your stride as opposed to landing hard on your heel. Remember to maintain the correct position and stride as you increase your speed.
Fuel up and Hydrate
Just as you would not expect your car to run on no fuel and other fluids, you can’t expect your body to go unless it is fueled up, so make sure you are fueled up and well-hydrated when you walk. Carbohydrates provide the best fuel for exercise, with protein providing the best source of nutrients for recovery. Drink water before, during, and after your activity.
Use moderation in increasing your speed, distance, and frequency, using the general rule of not exceeding more than a 10% increase per week. Stretch after exercise to reduce soreness later. Aim for walking 4-5 times per week and no more than 6 times.
Listen to your body, and rest when it tells you that it needs to rest.
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