Snow may be falling, but spring is definitely around the corner. Old and young alike will benefit from getting out and walking as soon as the roads are dry and the temperatures are moderate. Plan now to get outdoors for a walk – you’ll be glad you did.
Following are some tips for the Mayo Clinic about how to get the most from your walk. Keep in mind, not all of these are going to be possible for the elderly. But even if your stride is short and you need a cane or walker for balance, a walk still provides great benefits.
Consider your technique
Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here’s how you’ll look when you’re walking:
- Your head is up and you’re looking forward, not at the ground.
- Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright.
- You’re swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK.
- Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward.
- You’re walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.
Plan your routine
As you start your walking routine, remember to:
- Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk outdoors when it’s dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.
- Choose your course carefully. If you’ll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf.
- Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
- Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
- Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you’d rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
Don’t forget to walk with a friend. Not only does a walking buddy enhance safety, it also makes walking a lot more fun. The Frederick YMCA conducts a free walk through the City every Wednesday at 1 p.m. and Thursday at 11 a.m. For more information, call the YMCA at 301-663-5131.
Source: The Mayo Clinic Staff