It’s no secret that keeping active helps us to maintain good health and prevent chronic disease. But being active doesn’t need to be a strenuous three-hour workout at the gym. The best type of activity for you – and one you’re likely to stick with – is one you enjoy and that fits easily into your life. It can be as simple as increasing the amount you walk each day.
And what better way to ease into more exercise than walking?
Talk to your doctor
If you’ve been inactive, have heart disease (or a family history of heart disease) or any major health problems, check with your doctor first about what activities are suited to you.
If the shoe fits
If you plan to walk regularly, it’s important to feel comfortable. Wearing the wrong shoes for your foot type or shoes that are too old and lack support can put off even the most avid walker. A podiatrist or trained staff in a good shoe store can assess your foot type and direct you to the right athletic shoe. Feet vary, so it’s important to have a shoe that supports you in the right way.
Generally, the best shoe for every day wear is one that can be fastened with laces, buckles or velcro, has a heel cup not a strap or sling back, bends freely at the toe, but not in the middle – and is no higher than two centimetres off the ground. And if this doesn’t suit your work day outfit, keep a pair of good walking shoes or runners in your bag and store them at work, ready for your morning, lunchtime or evening walk.
Warm up by walking slowly for a few minutes before stepping up the pace. Make sure you stay well hydrated and take a bottle of water with you. If you’re out in the sun remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. And at night or in low light, wear light-coloured or reflective clothing.
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to exercise with friends.
Why not try a community based walking group? It can be a fun and social way to get active and meet new people. Visit your local government website to find a walking group in your area. Or you can set up your own by gathering your friends and neighbours together for a regular session.
There are plenty of websites where you can find inspiration, new routes and share experiences with others.
Here are just a few suggestions:
Walking with Attitude motivates you with various challenges and rewards.
MapMyWALK , available online and as a mobile app, allows you to map and share your walking routes. You can even track the distance, pace and elevation of your walks.