Walking do’s and don’ts!

Exercise is just as important a part of a healthy lifestyle as nutrition and mental health are. As I’m always repeating, the 3- physical, emotional and mental health– are all related and always connected, no ifs and’s or buts about it!

I have done all kinds of exercise throughout my life. Ran track and cross country in grade and middle school, played competitive volleyball in middle and high school. As an adult I turned to walking, running and biking, but developed exercise induced asthma and was very prone to injury with running. So I’ve now made the decision to not run (unless being chased by a bear, lol) and I stick to the biking which I prefer to do with someone, and walking which I do alone or with friends. Walking has been my main and most enjoyable form of exercise as an adult and the one that is the easiest to be consistent with.

Walking is the one you can do all your life, you need no special equipment except for quality shoes. You can do it in the city or in the country, on flat ground or hike a mountain. In any weather if you dress appropriately, during the day or night.

Some walking don’ts:

* Don’t wear ankle weights– they throw off your hip and knee alignment and can cause injury, while studies show the extra calories you may burn are miniscule.

* Don’t walk slowly thinking you will burn more fat. The more calories you burn, the more fat you lose. Therefore, pick up the pace. Brisk walking at 3 to 4 mph gets you into a moderate intensity workout zone, which is the minimum for a decent workout not only to lose weight but to increase cardiovascular fitness. Walking at 4.7 mph burns as many calories as jogging.

Some walking do’s: 

* Do use walking poles. Walking poles are a nice addition and helpful tool for rough and hilly ground, and support with injuries or weakened joints.  You work your upper body, improve balance, and burn approximately 25-40% more calories. I definitely use mine when I’m walking/hiking the local trails.

* Do ditch the city concrete and smog whenever possible. It will challenge your balance to be on hiking trails, improve your cardiovascular system, relieve stress, and the views can be awe inspiring! Trail walking also burns almost double the calories of walking on pavement.

So get out there and walk as much as you can. Be careful, safe and responsible. Don’t overdue it, but challenge yourself! Go with friends or alone (although I don’t recommend hiking alone), and most of all…enjoy it!! 🙂

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