5 tips for a walking program

When I was young, our family lived on the outskirts of town. It was a one-kilometre walk to school. As a teenager, I would trek the five kilometres to the nearest bus stop to ride into downtown. My mother loved to walk and led the family on weekend hikes through nearby forests and trails. I grew up with walking and enjoy it as my number one cardiovascular activity to this day.

I find walking to be the most flexible and relaxing activity. You do not need any special equipment or skills – just a good pair of shoes and sensible clothing. You can do it anywhere and anytime with a friend or by yourself. Walking offers less risk of injury, with many of the benefits of more strenuous activities.

As much as I love walking, other people may find it boring after a while. Here are some tips from walking enthusiasts that may help:

Walk with a destination in mind
Walk to the library, bank, post office, etc. to do your errands. Wear a backpack to carry your purchases or library books. That is a better way to carry weight and it frees your hands to swing while you walk.

Listen to the radio
You can listen to a talk show station such as the CBC or catch up on your reading with a book-on-tape. Music can also help give a rhythm to your walking.

Walk in new places
Try taking a bus to a different area and walk there. Choose a park with trails through nature or walk through a new residential area.

Keep your mind active
Play a mind game while you walk. One avid walker enjoys "renovating" houses as she walks. She adds a dormer to this one and remodels the porch on that one.

Team up with a friend
A partner can make workouts more fun and push you to try harder. You will be more likely to stick to your plan if you have a partner. Consider joining a walking club. In the colder months, you can join a mall-walking group and continue your program.

Keep in mind that walking with ankle weights can increase risk of injury to your hips, knees, ankles and feet. Wrist weights can cause shoulder and elbow injuries. This will add stress to the body and the increased calorie burn is negligible.

Ensure that you dress in layers...you never know what the weather will bring. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Use comfortable footwear that provides good cushioning and support.

Always be well-hydrated. Consider freezing a bottle of water ahead of time. That way the water stays cold and refreshing longer.

Blessings on the road to health!

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