WALKING- HOW AND WHEN WE SHOULD DO IT
Walking is one of the best forms of Aerobic exercise. One has to remember that walking and good health go hand in hand. Today, I am going to discuss on how walking helps us to maintain good health.
In my day to day practice, patients coming to my clinic having Hypertension, Diabetes, Obesity, etc., enquire about ways to keep themselves fit and fine. Most of these patients do not have enough time to go to a gym or work out in the open. After a short discussion, I mostly encourage them to at least spend some time Walking – an effort that requires minimal spend on any sort of attire and time to ensure good health. In fact, walking is entirely free of cost barring the cost of apparel and footwear.
In today’s post, I am going to brief you on different aspects of walking in a Q&A format. When people visit me for my weight management program, especially those who are overweight, they have loads of questions- a few of them which I will include in this post.
Q1. What footwear should I wear?
Ans. When you go for a walk, say for about 4-5 km., there is bound to be a strain on your knee, ankle, and sole of your foot. So choose a walking shoe that has soft padding in the sole, which is light but durable. Shoe companies like Adidas, Nike, Reebok, etc., come out with good quality walking shoes from time to time to suit one’s needs. Also, wear good quality socks, also produced by these companies. I prefer ankle-length socks. Contrary to the view that one should not wear cotton socks, I prefer one that has a mix of cotton+nylon in the ratio of 8:2.
Q2. What sort of clothes do I wear?
Ans. Since brisk walking involves quite an amount of sweating, one should wear a sweatshirt made of polypropylene which helps in absorbing sweat. Again, these clothes are available from the above-mentioned brands. The shirt could be short-sleeved or full-sleeved depending upon the weather in your area. It should be fitting yet loose and comfortable while walking. The same goes for pants also. It can be short or full depending upon your comfort. One more thing to remember is that both upper and lower clothing should be stretchable. I personally prefer a tracksuit made of polypropylene and cotton. In colder climates it advisable to wear a t-shirt with a hood [to cover your head and protect you from getting head cold].
Q3. When should I go for a walk?
Ans. Ideally, I prefer going for walk an hour after sunrise and that too in a path lined by lush green trees, reason being that after sunrise, the plants start releasing pure oxygen and absorb all the carbon-di-oxide from the atmosphere, so we get to breathe pure oxygen. This is good for our overall health. As we go into the further part of the day, say, from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., if we expose our-self to the sunlight for about 15 to 20 minutes, we will also be benefited from the production of Vitamin D in our body. Again, from 4.00 to 6.00 p.m., it is as beneficial as it is after sunrise.
Q4. How should I walk?
Ans. Start your walk with casual trot for warming up. Then after say, 2-3 minutes, start walking briskly.
a]How fast should you walk?
Ideally, one should walk briskly at a pace that is comfortable to you or at a rate that is 60 to 70 % of your maximum heart rate.[To calculate your maximum permissible heart rate use this simple formula: 220-age for men; 226-age for women].
Gadgets showing your heart rate, steps covered, calories burnt, etc. are available these days. They give you a real-time picture of your walking efforts. These can be expensive, so my advice would be to calculate your steps manually as I have written in my previous post if you cannot afford it.
Heart rate can be measured by keeping your index and middle fingers of one hand just below your wrist on the other hand where you can feel the pulse. Measure it for a full 60 seconds.
Nowadays, there are so many gadgets-the Fitness Bands-which you can use to know real-time measurements of the distance covered, how many steps you have walked and your heart rate at the same time.
b]What posture should I adopt while walking?
While walking, your upper body should be straight with the head or chin held as high as possible. The abdomen should be held tucked in, which will help reduce the girth of your waist in the long run. Breathe in and out casually. The speed of your walk should be such that you are almost panting but you are able to speak easily at the same time. While walking, try swinging your arms side by side or up and down. It helps burn more calories while giving much-needed exercise to your whole body. As you reach the end of your walk, slow down so that your body starts cooling down. After reaching home, try sitting down with your legs raised a bit for about 5 to 6 minutes. It will drain all the lactic acid accumulated in your calf muscle and prevent cramps later on in the day.
c]What should be the Stride of your walk?
The stride of your walk refers to the distance between your 2 feet. Ideally, it is about 2.5 feet in men and 2.1 in women. Increasing your stride a little bit day by day can have an effect on your rectus abdominis muscle. This is the principle muscle on your abdomen. This muscle will also get stretched thereby strengthening it [you can see 2 packs/4 packs/6 packs in people going to a gym]. This, in turn, improves the look of your abdomen by flattening it and making it more adorable. Moreover, your speed of walk also improves–you will be covering more distance in a shorter period of time.
d] How long should you walk?
Here I would like to share my experience. I was overweight by 13 kg 1 year back. With a regular walk of 60 to 75 minutes daily for 9 months, I could bring down my weight by 10 kg. Depending upon your present state of health, you can adjust your timings in such a way that you are comfortable. It can range from 45 to 75 minutes.
e] How many steps you should cover per day?
Ideally, if we walk 10000 steps, we burn about 400 calories. 7000 calories are equivalent to 1 kg in weight. So burning 7000 calories will require approximately 17.5 days i.e. roughly 175000 steps. This is quite achievable.
So start walking today to maintain good health-walk at least 6000 to 8000 steps for 5 to 6 days a week.
I have discussed a simple and basic exercise such as walking. There is an interesting podcast that you may not want to miss-.
Do listen to the above podcast- it will give some good insights as to the benefit of walking.
You can also read this article on exercising for better heart health- Link
After walking- whether brisk or moderately slow, one should stretch their legs by either bending them (as shown below)-
Stretching exercises help in relaxing your muscles as well as stretching and relaxing the arteries inside our body-( read this article by Dr. Michael Hunter).
I will now touch upon other simple exercises which will be short but help you burn more calories in my next blog.
If you have any queries, kindly ask them in my Leave Comment section. You can also mail them to my email address:-email@example.com.