Being physically active makes us feel BETTER ...
- it gives us MORE ENERGY - running for the bus or climbing the stairs is easier;
- it makes us HAPPIER - stepping out of the house or the office for 10-minute breaks lifts our spirits;
- AND we get HEALTHIER - a total of 30 minutes of brisk walking on five or more days of the week (can be 10-minute chunks) is said to protect us from heart disease, type II diabetes, certain cancers and osteoporosis
DO WHAT YOU ENJOY ...
- if that's walking, then walk - only take the car when you HAVE to and get off the bus early when you can;
- if that's cycling, then cycle - it can be quicker than sitting in traffic;
- if it's taking part in sport, then take it up again.
A pair of comfortable shoes is the only equipment required when you first start walking. Any shoes that are comfortable, provide good support and don't cause blisters may do to start with:
- casual shoes with heavy rubber soles, good running shoes with heavy soles, or some of the lighter walking boots;
- but they should have arch supports and should elevate the heel slightly;
- make sure there is enough room for feet to expand as they get warm and your toes to move;
- choose a shoe with uppers made of materials that "breathe" such as nylon mesh or leather.
After you have been walking for a while, and feel ready to move on to longer or brisker walks, you will want more information about footwear. And you've come to the right place at Up & Running.
Whether you're a "health walker", looking for stability in your shoe; a "fitness walker" needing a little more flex; or a "cardio walker" looking for a shoe with forefoot flex, we can advise you. And if you have orthotic insoles we can offer shoes that accomodate those too.
Choose loose fitting garments that allow you to move freely. Wear thin layers rather than heavy, chunky clothing.
It's worth looking for "moisture management" or "technical" tops for Summer Wear - these will keep you dry and cool.
Many manufacturers now offer longer cut shorts - still in moisture management fabrics, light and comfortable, but with a modest cut that's ideal for walking comfort.
Tracksters - are standard runners' wear, but also good for walking and cycling on cooler days, the fabric stretches well for easy walking and dries quickly too.
Your feet are going to get damp, from perspiration or the elements. To avoid blisters you want socks that won't crumple down into your shoes. The heavier running socks are probably ideal for walking too - they have padding where it's needed and ventilated or moisture-wicking features too.
Many walkers choose to carry such a waterproof top even if it isn't threatening to rain - it can be quickly donned when conditions get bad, and if you slow down and are 30 minutes from home it can stop colds and the like taking hold.
You may want a basic bum-bag to put your cag in, as well as any of the other items that you might want to carry, phone, money even chocolate bars!
You should carry some water too on longer summer walks - check out our bottles and bottle belts.
Track how far you've gone, and how much further you're walking as you get fitter and stronger. A simple pedometer is an easy way to keep track - we have several different kinds. GPS devices keep a more accurate track and you can download your walks to your PC.
In winter, you'll need some lightweight gloves and a hat (so much body heat is lost through your head!), as well as a thermal layer under your vest but Winter may be the time to shorten the routes or even lay off for warmer times. We'll cover thermal clothing and heavier waterproof equipment later in the year.
It is important to build a habit of regular walking. Try the following 10-week plan:
Week 1 - two walks of 10 minutes each on three days of the week
Weeks 2 and 3 - two walks of 15 minutes each on four days of the week
Week 4 - two walks of 15 minutes each on five days of the week
Week 5 to 9 - two walks of 15 minutes each, or one walk of 30 minutes, on five days of the week. Try to increase your pace slightly or include a route which has some inclines or uphill slopes.
Staying with it:
Week 10 onwards - aim for a brisk pace and challenge yourself with steeper inclines or hills.
If you find any week difficult then repeat the week and stay at that level until you are able to progress comfortably.
If, from week 5 onwards, you cannot fit a 30-minute continuous walk into your day then break it down into three 10-minute walks or two 15-minute walks.
The other way to achieve a good level of fitness is through the 10000 steps program. On average, you walk between 2,000 and 6,000 steps a day (between one and three miles), so to reach the goal of 10,000 steps means walking an extra half an hour a day, which can be easily done on the way to work or in a lunch hour. This idea was based on an idea developed in Japan 40 years ago, walking 10,000 steps a day. It was and still is believed to keep you fit and healthy without the need for additional exercise.
While this may not necessarily be exact, it is a good basic philosophy and definitely offers increased health benefits over a sedentary lifestyle - an all too familiar choice for many people nowadays! All you need is a good pair or shoes (walking trainers preferably), a step counter and a strong will to get away from the car.
Get walking, get fit, live longer.
WWW Walking Links
- www.whi.org.uk - Walking the way to Health Initiative
- www.walkthewalk.org - Uniting against breast cancer
- www.ramblers.org.uk - Ramblers Association, working for walkers
- www.bhfactive.org.uk - Established to provide support to physical activity, sport, health and fitness professionals in the promotion of physical activity.