Health Tips

Walking is great exercise

May 21, 2019

Have you considered just how good it is to walk regularly?

It’s a moderate intensity exercise that most of us can do easily. It can be walking leisurely or at a brisk pace. It can be short or long distances, on level ground or slopes. Whatever your fitness level, walking is great exercise.

However, before you try a marathon, or walk “the Camino”, there are some aspects of health to consider. Consult your doctor if you have a lung or cardiovascular condition, or if you have considerable joint pain such as lower back, hip, knee, ankle or foot pain. You may need a graded programme.

Some helpful tips:

  • If you’re a beginner, start slowly, for example 10 minutes continuous walking on level ground daily or perhaps every second day. Then gradually increase the time in 5 minute intervals, always ensuring that you don’t venture so far that you can’t make the return journey.
  • If you’re an experienced walker, gradually add new challenges such as hilly terrain, greater distance, increased speed, some stair climbing.
  • Try making it social and walk with friends, or walk the dog.

Think about your gait:

  • Mostly (except on slopes or steps) you should be upright and tall. Try to elongate your spine, including your neck (not just lifting your chin, but stretching up through the back and neck to the crown of the head.
  • Settle your shoulders but let your arms swing normally by your sides.
  • Make your stride a comfortable length with even length steps.
  • Wear good supportive footwear.
  • Consider walking in a pool if you have difficulty walking on land – consult your physio.

With all this in mind, enjoy your walking, taking in the scenery and fresh air. Your heart rate, circulation and breathing will increase, your muscles will be working and your bones and joints will benefit from the weight-bearing exercise. A sense of wellbeing will also have a positive effect on your mental health.

Please contact your physio if you need help with a walking programme, gait assessment or any musculo-skeletal issues.