Spring is just around the corner, and after the long winter months most of us are ready for sunnier days and more time spent outdoors. Even if you've been following an indoor exercise regimen or participating in winter sports, there's just something special about that first springtime walk—lacing up your shoes, heading out the door and pausing to inhale a deep breath of fresh air, fragrant with the promise of blooming plants and flowers. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your walking routine:
- If you've been primarily sedentary over the winter months, start off slowly. It's more important that you first set the habit of making time for yourself and keeping to whatever walking schedule you decide on. You can increase your time day by day, but first you have to show up!
- Wear the right shoes and socks. Walking on rocky or graveled roadways requires sturdier footwear than sidewalks or asphalt. Even on flat, smooth walking paths, casual flats, street shoes or sandals simply don't provide the level of support and protection needed for exercise-focused walking. Avoid injury and blistering by selecting footwear that's appropriate to the terrain, and absorbent socks that help wick away perspiration.
- Never stretch cold muscles. Give your muscles at least 5 minutes at an easy pace to warm up before stretching or ratcheting up your walking speed. Remember, you're here to enjoy the process of improving your health and wellness, not to injure yourself.
- Pay attention to your posture. Stand erect, with your shoulders relaxed and chin up. When you start walking, keep your head up and eyes on the path about 20 feet in front of you. If you want to incorporate arm movement, bend your elbows, keeping them close to your body. Curl your hands loosely, don't clench them. As you walk, keep your stride and arm swing smooth and natural, avoiding tightly clenched muscles or exaggerated arm movements.
- 5-10 minutes before you finish your walk, slow down to an easier pace. This cool-down period allows your heart rate and breathing to return normal and your body to expend the heat that it has generated in the course of your walk.
Walking is truly one of the best forms of exercise for people of all ages. The physical benefits are obvious—but there are other good reasons for taking a nice long walk as often as you can. It enables you to make some time in your busy schedule to care for yourself, and spend some quiet time alone or in the company of other walkers with a common agenda of good health and self-care.
“Speaking of Healthcare” is the official blog of Assured Healthcare Staffing. Please LIKE us on Facebook to receive health and wellness tips and more! Article by Kim Washetas, contributing writer and enthusiastic whole health advocate.