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Healthy Living

Walk your way to good health

Walking Your Way to Good Health


Walking is one of the easiest ways t exercise. You can do it almost anywhere and at any time. Walking is also inexpensive. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes.

Walking will:

  • Give you more energy
  • Make you feel good
  • Help you to relax
  • Reduce stress
  • Help you sleep better
  • Tone your muscles
  • Help control your appetite
  • Increase the number of calories your body uses

For all these reasons, people have started walking programs. If you would like to start your own program, read and follow the information provided here.

Is It Okay for Me To Walk?

Answer the following questions before you begin a walking program:

  • Has your doctor ever told you that you have heart trouble?
  • When you exercise, do you have pains in your chest or on your left side (neck, shoulder or arm)?
  • Do you often feel faint or have dizzy spells?
  • Do you feel extremely breathless after mild activity?
  • Has your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure?
  • Has your doctor told you that you have bone or joint problems, like arthritis, that could get worse if you exercise?
  • Are you over 50 years old and not use to a lot of exercise?
  • Do you have a condition or physical reason not mentioned here that might interfere with an exercise program?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, please check with your doctor before starting a walking program or other form of exercise.

How Do I Start a Walking Program?

It is important to design a program that will work for you. In planning your walking program, keep the following points in mind:

  • Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with you. Your walking partner(s) should be able to walk with you on the same schedule and at the same speed.
  • Wear shoes with thick flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb shock.
  • Wear clothes that are right for the season. Cotton clothes for the summer help to keep you cool by absorbing sweat and allowing it to evaporate. Layer your clothing in the winter, and as you warm up, you can take off some layers.
  • Stretch before you walk. See the warm up exercises here.
  • Think of your walk in three parts. Walk slowly for 5 minutes. Increase your speed for the next 5 minutes. Finally, to cool down, walk slowly again for 5 minutes.
  • Try to walk at least three times per week. Add 2 to 3 minutes per week to the fast walk. If you walk less than three times per week, increase the fast walk more slowly.
  • To avoid stiff or sore muscles or joints, start gradually. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going further, and walking for longer periods of time.
  • The more you walk, the better you will feel. You also use more calories.

Safety Tips

Keep safety in mind when you plan your route and the time of your walk.

  • Walk in the daytime or at night in well-lighted areas.
  • Walk in a group at all times.
  • Notify your local police station of your group's walking time and route.
  • Do not wear jewelry.
  • Do not wear headphones.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.

How Do I Warm Up?

Before you start to walk, do the stretching exercises shown here. Remember not to bounce when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.

Side Reaches

Wall Push

Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about 3-4 feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Knee Pull

Leg Curl

Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.

Pull your foot to your buttocks with your opposite hand. Keep your knee pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other foot.

 

Taking the First Step

Walking right is very important.

  • Walk with your chin up and your shoulders held slightly back.
  • Walk so that the heel of your foot touches the ground first. Roll your weight forward.
  • Walk with your toes pointed forward.
  • Swing your arms as you walk.


A Sample Walking Program

 

Warm up Time

Fast Walk Time*

Cool Down Time

Total Time

Week 1

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
5 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

15 min.

Week 2

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
8 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

18 min

Week 3

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
11 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

21 min.

Week 4

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
14 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

24 min.

Week 5

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
17 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

27 min.

Week 6

Walk slowly
5 min

Walk briskly
20 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

30 min.

Week 7

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
23 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

33 min.

Week 8

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
26 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

36 min.

Week 9
& Beyond

Walk slowly
5 min.

Walk briskly
30 min.

Walk slowly
5 min.

40 min.

*If you walk less than three times per week, increase the fast walk time more slowly.

Weight-control Information Network

1 Win Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3665
Phone: (301) 984-7378 or 1-800-WIN-8098
Fax: (301) 984-7196
E-mail: win@info.niddk.nih.gov

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health, under the U.S. Public Health Service. Authorized by Congress (Public Law 103-43), WIN assembles and disseminates to health professionals and the public information on weight control, obesity, and nutritional disorders. WIN responds to requests for information; develops, reviews, and distributes publications; and develops communications strategies to encourage individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Publications produced by the clearinghouse are reviewed carefully for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.

This e-text is not copyrighted. The clearinghouse encourages users of this e-pub to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.

NIH Publications No. 97-4155

Copyright © 1998-2002 SLM & Healthy Living
All Rights Reserved

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