Thursday, November 02, 2006

Walk to Stay Healthy

Most of us have no time for exercise. Always busy with office work and other activities. Our hectic lifestyle, with all that dashing around, is keeping us pret­ty fit. Are we one of those who feel this is enough to keep us fit and going? Even if we are, it is important for us to keep walking as it is one of the best forms of exercise. It is the fitness goal, which we can achieve without shelling out mega bucks for some swank gym membership.

Walking is the cheapest, easiest and most convenient form of exercise for all age groups, and can be easily adopted if one has the will to do it. It is said to cultivate relationships, make one for­get worries and ease the mind. It aids digestion, stimulates the brain, and helps the blood flow evenly throughout the body. Read on to know what are the pre-requisites for walking, the benefits of walking and how to start.

  • Wear loose clothes and well itted canvas shoes to start our exercise

  • Preferably go on an empty stomach or with just a glass of water/lemon juice

  • Walk at a pace with which we are comfortable

  • Try to be regular with our walks and each walk should be at least 15 minutes

  • If we are walking daily, then a walk of 5 kms or 45-60 minutes would do

  • A walk in the early morning is ideal, but don't let this deter us. Even if we are back at 9 p.m. at night, we can go for a brisk walk on our terrace or around the block

  • Brisk walking with rhythmic movement of arms and feet, coupled with controlled breathing, enhances the benefits

  • Replace our walking shoes at least every six months or after walking 500 miles, whichever comes first

  • Socks should prefer­ably be made of a cotton blend to avoid any blister causing dampness. Also, fight the heat by wearing a hat, sun screen, sunglasses, and light colours to reflect the sun. Light weight cloth­ing that breathes, prefer­ably a synthetic is a good choice
  • Warm up exercise before commencing walks

  • Maintain an erect pos­ture while walking

  • Inhale deeply to regularise swinging our arm

  • After every four steps, inhale deeply, as much as our lungs can take

  • After every four steps hold breath (neither inhal­ing nor exhaling)

  • Start the above cycle again


If we are one of those who hate walking outside, but at the same time are conscious of our health. Then get ourselves a tread­mill. This burns more calo­ries and raises cardiovascu­lar fitness more effectively than stationary bikes, stair cumbers, rowers, and ski machines.

Well, all of us know how to walk, but do we know the best way to walk? Stand up straight, keep our chin parallel to the ground, and move with a sense of purpose. Our ears should be directly over your shoulders, hips, knees, and feet. Arms should swing freely, and when we want to pick up the pace, bend our elbows to an 85-degree angle and keep them close to our body. Our hands should never rise above midchest level or fall past our hips.

  • Walking strengthens our heart, helps lower cholesterol, relieves stress and worry, improves balance and helps prevent falls, strengthens joints, helps control weight and above all gives us energy and a good night's rest

  • Walking helps in burning calories. It takes 3500 calories to gain or lose one pound

  • An hour a day, or a total of seven hours a week, is associated with decreased risk for breast cancer and diabetes. As lit­tle as a half hour a day, or three hours a week, is asso­ciated with decreased risk of heart disease

  • Walking just three hours a week cuts the risk of heart attack and stroke in women ages 40 to 65 by 40 percent

  • We can lose about 18 pounds a year without dieting if you walk 45 minutes, four times a week and if we are still not convinced about walking, it is advised to do these activities.

  • Instead of commuting by a two or three wheeler, try taking a bus to our work place. Walk to our lunch place or instead of having a chat over a sand­wich, take half an hour or so to walk around the local area. Later, on the way home from and again walk the distance We would normally cover by auto/taxi.

  • Weekends may be when we do our main shopping. Why not walk to the supermarket, and unless we're weighed down by shopping, walk back as well.

  • Cycle in areas without traffic until we've gained our confidence. Cycle with friends if at all possible.

Happy walking hours!

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