2012-07-26 / Sports

Just for the "Well" of it

It’s something we learned around the time of our first birthday, something we take for granted every day, and something that can have a significant bearing on our overall health- WALKING!

Walking covers just about all the bases of a good cardiovascular fitness program. It’s free, easy, can be done almost anywhere, either alone, with your kids, your dog, or with your grandma, and it’s very good for you when done for fitness purposes. Now, I’m not talking about scuffing around Wal-Mart in slippers or flipflops… I’m talking about lacing up some sturdy, supportive footwear, throwing your shoulders back, swinging your arms, and MOVING!

It’s been recommended that we walk 10,000 steps per day, but how many of us actually do that? Sure, there are people who are unable to do that much, but my point is – why are we not doing as much as we can? We can start slowly by parking our car just a little farther from the store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or even marching in place during TV commercials.

Build yourself up by increasing your time, distance, or intensity level regularly. You could even carry some light weight dumbbells if you like. Your goal should be 30 minutes of medium intensity walking at least three times a week. By medium intensity, I mean you should be able to carry on a conversation, recite a poem, or sing while you are walking.

On days that you don’t walk, you can keep your muscles in shape by doing strength, resistance, or flexibility exercises and stretches.

Use a pedometer or track the mileage of your route with your car so you’ll know just how much you are accomplishing. You could keep a mileage journal and track your progress all the way to California if you like, or “pay” yourself a certain amount of money per mile, then use the money for something you really want.

Before beginning a walking program:

If you are currently physically inactive, are overweight, have a personal or family history of heart problems, or are over 40, please consult with your health care provider and let them know your plans.

Set realistic goals for yourself so it will be easier to stick to the program. Don’t expect to walk a 10 minute mile the first week out there, but you can gradually build up to that if you’d like.

Ask a friend or relative to walk with you for companionship and to keep each other motivated. Make sure you warm up and cool down each time by doing simple stretches.

Wear good supportive shoes that fit well. Look for light weight, water resistant shoes with good “cushion” and that are roomy in the toe area. If you plan to walk early in the morning, or in the evening, you may want to make sure your shoes have some type of reflective material on them. Don’t forget to take care of your feet by keeping them clean and moisturized. Dry between your toes after bathing and use foot powder if you are diabetic or prone to athlete’s foot.

There are plenty of places to walk around town, either indoors on treadmills or outside on the track at the park, the boardwalk, city streets, cemeteries or even on the beach. Walking in sand adds extra benefits by working different muscles in your legs.

Give yourself at least one day of rest per week and reward yourself for a job well done (but not with candy bars or pie.). In no time at all, you’ll notice a variety of health benefits begin to happen. You may notice some weight loss, your clothing fitting better, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, better blood sugar numbers, better balance due to stronger ankles, better sleep quality, and more energy. All due to something you learned as a baby!

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You can reach Cathy Kaltz, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, at (906) 286-0985 for information on individual or worksite wellness programs, wellness seminars and presentations for your group, or information on chronic disease self-management programs that are available in our area.

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