For Exercise in 2013, Just Try Walking
A sedentary lifestyle has a debilitating influence on your health as you age, therefore exercise is imperative. While some fitness enthusiasts relentlessly seek out the latest, trendiest exercise crazes, many others are returning to good, old-fashioned walking to help them feel great and get back into shape. Whether enjoying the wonders of nature or simply the company of a good friend or spouse, walking can be a healthy, invigorating experience. And thanks to its convenience and simplicity, walking could be right for you too.
Benefits of Walking
You don’t need to become a member of an expensive gym to go walking. And except for a good pair of walking shoes, it requires virtually no equipment. And for those of you that say, “I’m just too tired after work, school or by the end of the day for exercise”, I say you will be impressed at how much better you will feel once you commit to a walking program. Walking accomplishes all of the following and more:
• Improves Cardiovascular Health
• Restores your Body’s lost Energy
• Helps to Tone the Muscles of the Lower Back, Abdomen and Legs
• Burns calories
• Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes and Many Others
“Disclaimer” Consult your doctor before beginning any walking, running or exercise program. Begin slowly. If walking in your own neighborhood start by walking 5 minutes (or less) at a pace that does not cause discomfort in any one direction before turning around and heading back towards home. This will insure that you don’t get a far from home and find yourself out of breath sitting on a park bench. Continue this for about two weeks, then start to increase your pace and the length of time you are walking. Eventually – depending on your age – you can build your endurance to “target” your proper heart rate “pulse” according to the following formula:
Target Heart Rate
Step #1: After a few moments of walking find your pulse on the underside of your wrist.
Step #2: Count the number of beats you feel in 10 seconds.
Step #3: Multiply your number of beats in 15 seconds by 4. That will give you your “beats per minute.”
Step #4: Subtract your “beats per minute” from 220 and multiply the answer by 80%.
Example: 15 beats (per 15 seconds) x 4 = 60 “beats per minute”
220 – 60 “beats per minute” = 160 x 80% = 128 Target Heart Rate
Walking just 10 minutes every other day can offer important health benefits. But in order to increase the health benefits of walking try to build up your endurance and walk 20 to 30 minutes three to four days a week. Holding your “Target Heart Rate” as explained in the example above at 128 “beats per minute” for 20 minutes three to four times per week would be ideal.
Important Points on Walking
To be considered “active,” adults should try to take 10,000 steps each day. Purchasing and wearing a “pedometer” is an easy way to track your progress. Pedometers are inexpensive and can be found at most drug stores and pharmacies. The following tips can help you getting started on your walking regimen:
• Move your arms freely, in coordination with the opposite leg.
• Manage proper posture when walking. Avoid looking down as you walk or excessive forward leaning of your body as this will challenge the curves of your spine and neck, which will cause you to carry your weight improperly leading to injury.
• There is no need to carry weights or dumbbells while walking. They are better used as a separate part of any exercise regimen.
• Expect a little soreness in the thighs, calves and lower body for the first week or two. If you experience more than soreness, check with your doctor of chiropractic as there may be postural concerns or other health issue that need to be addressed.
• Walk briskly, with “purpose.” Simply sauntering, while relaxing and enjoyable, is not an effective form of cardiovascular exercise. However if you are able to reach your “Target Heart Rate” and maintain it for 20 minutes you are accomplishing your overall goal for your walking program.
• Drink 10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day to help keep the kidneys active, dilute and remove toxins from the body, and replace lost fluids. (Coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol are diuretics/dehydrators. Don’t substitute them for water.) If you perspire during walking, you may need to drink even more.
• Walking on a cushioned or rubberized track is ideal, because the cushioning of this type of track absorbs most of the impact of your walking. Many recreation centers offer this type of track free of charge.
• Grass is another good surface, but watch out for hidden dips or holes in the ground.
• Walking on a surface with no give, such as concrete or a mall floor, is not your best choice, because this type of surface will not absorb much of the impact your body will experience. If you do choose to walk on such a surface, be extra careful to select highly cushioned shoes.
Pain and Injury
You may experience pain or injury in a particular area such as the knee or a hip, but the root of the problem may lie somewhere else. Injuries of this nature are not regional, or isolated, but systemic. A problem in the foot or ankle can create an imbalance in every step, leading to discomfort or injury that moves to the knees, hips, low back or neck. If you suffer from pain beyond typical muscle soreness, chiropractic care offers a wide variety of treatment options and wellness programs that can reduce or eliminate the cause of your pain or injury and get you back on the road to improving your health in 2013.