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The phrase "Walking is man's best medicine," allegedly spoken by Hippocrates two millennia ago, is even more timely today. This fact is particularly true in industrialized societies where new technologies have not only changed the way we work but, even more profoundly, have also affected our lifestyles by reducing the physical effort of most of our daily activities (with the exception of sports).
Health Canada promotes that physical activity helps healthy growth and development. It:
If you walk regularly means you walk daily, or at least a few times a week for about 30 minutes or longer. When you walk regularly, much like other kinds of moderate and low impact physical activities that involve the whole body, you can greatly improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and function. Also, once you become a regular walker:
Your body weight reflects the balance between the calories you take in as food and the calories you expend through your normal daily physical activities in life. Walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace covers a distance of 2.0 to 2.5 km and burns about 125 calories (520 kiloJoules). This amount may not seem like much, but if you walked five days a week within one year you would burn over 32,000 calories which would burn off more than 5 kg of fat.
Walking, particularly when walking with good company and in pleasant surroundings, reduces depression and anxiety. Walkers also tend to have better sleep.
Gentle walking is often prescribed for people suffering from a variety of medical conditions.
At the beginning you may be able to walk only a short distance at a slow pace, but with time you will soon be able to increase your distance and pace.
Try to walk naturally, keeping in mind the following tips:
Good posture is crucial to get the best out of walking:
Breathe regularly and steadily – neither too shallow nor too deep:
Frequency, duration, and tempo (pace, speed):
If you experience discomfort or pain while walking, stop:
Shoes are the single most important piece of equipment for walking, but they do not have to be specialty "walking" shoes. Any pair of shoes that you can walk in for an extended time would do. However, if you do not have such a pair and are looking to buy some, we offer the following tips:
Always get fitted for shoes in the evening as your feet swell by the end of the day.
It is important to get a good pair with the following characteristics:
Practically speaking, wear anything that is loose, comfortable and sufficiently warm. Clothing becomes more important when you face inclement weather.
It is not clear whether stretching exercises that have traditionally been recommended before any vigorous activity are beneficial or not. However, to be on the safe side, we suggest that you start your walking session at a slow tempo for five minutes, then move up to a moderate tempo and from there gradually speed up to your regular cruising speed. This 5-minute start will help loosen your muscles and minimize the possibility of pulling or tearing them.
At the end of the session, to avoid any possible dizziness from abruptly stopping your physical exertion, slow down your tempo for about 3 to 5 min.