With all of my emphasis on higher-impact aerobic and strength training, it’s easy to gloss over the importance of walking for exercise. The truth is, it’s a great low-impact form of aerobic activity that’s not only good for your heart, it’s also good for improving your mood.
Just like what I love about running, walking gets you out of the house and into the world a few times a week. You’d be amazed by how much there is to notice when you’re moving slower than the cars.
Walking is a safe form of exercise for people of all ages and abilities, and was my source of exercise-related sanity in the latter days of my pregnancy when I felt too enormous and sore to do anything else. It will also likely save my sanity in the coming weeks when I’m finally able to wear real shoes and once again put weight on my foot.
Because walking is such a basic thing, it’s easy to forget some basic fitness common sense.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. No, you don’t have to invest in fancy sneakers, but you should wear something that offers support for your foot and ankle. No flip flops, please!
- Wear breathable fabrics. Yes, you can walk fast enough to break a sweat. A polyester quick-dry athletic top like this one at Target can offer both sun protection and breathability.
- Be visible after dark. The sun sets earlier than we’d like these days. Be sure to wear bright colors or reflective fabrics if you’re heading out at night.
- Warm up. Even if you can maintain a brisk pace right out the front door, give your body about five minutes to warm up and adjust before zipping down the block.
- Cool down. Slow down on your way home, giving your body a few minutes to cool down.
- Stretch. Not enough people do this even with strenuous exercise. Treat your muscles right and stretch your ankles, calves, quads and hamstrings. You’ll feel better and your muscles will recover faster.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and take a walk.