If you’re trying to lose weight and get fit but you’re not used to doing exercise, walking is a good place to start. Walking is proven to be good for your heart, lungs and bone density, and is great for the mind too, as it uses up adrenalin and other hormones that the body produces under stress.
‘Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise known to humankind; just 30 minutes’ brisk walking a day, five times a week, is enough to keep you fit,’ says Tom Franklin, Chief Executive of the Ramblers’ Association.
Want to start strolling? Get yourself going with these basic walking tips…
Plan your route
If you’re planning on walking somewhere you’ve never been before, make sure you print off a route and directions or take a map. Walking needn’t be restricted to rural areas or parks. If you live in an urban area, check out www.walkit.com – a great website that allows you to simply type your location and destination into the site and gives you a map, directions, distance, estimated journey time and info on how many calories you’ll burn. You can also find lots of organised walks on the Walking for Health website (www.whi.org.uk).
Wear something suitable
If you’re setting out for a walk, your clothes should be comfortable and loose-fitting to allow you to move. Wear a few layers so that you can remove them if you get too hot. Wear trainers or walking shoes that provide cushioning and support. Buy either shoes specifically for walking or cross-training shoes. Socks that are a mix of synthetics will help perspiration to evaporate, unlike cotton socks, which absorb moisture. For more on what to wear, check out: www.walking.org. Warm up If you haven’t been out walking for a while, ensure you take time to warm up before you set off. Pointing and flexing your feet helps to stretch and build the shin muscle. Also try rotating your ankles too, to loosen off your joints.
If you’re planning on walking for more than half an hour, carry a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated. Also, if you’re feeling tired or dizzy, stop! It’s important to take regular breaks, especially if you haven’t been active for a while. If you feel your walk is going well, try to increase your pace and do more steps. You can also bring your arms into your walk by pumping them. To tone up your bum and target your glutes, walk uphill at a brisk pace.