Halton Chiropractic Clinic

Time to Get Walking!

Spring is here – Time to Get Walking!

Now that spring is here and we can start enjoying the outdoors again, one very simple but effective lifestyle change that we can introduce is walking.

All physical activity including walking is important because it gives us energy, it decreases our stress, it makes us stronger and prolongs our independence. It can also help prevent chronic diseases. Walking is both an accessible and low impact form of physical activity with many great outcomes.

Here are some of the many benefits you can receive by introducing walking into your routine.

  1. Increased fitness: regular walking daily or multiple times a week will involve your whole body, this includes your muscles and your cardiovascular system. With regular walking you are less likely to suffer from a fall due to increases in strength, flexibility, and range of motion. A reduction in falls leads to a reduction in your risk for fractures. Studies have also shown that participants in walking programs have improvements in quality of life and clinical scores in arthritis pain.
  2. Blood pressure and cardiovascular health: studies have shown that walking alone can lead to a statistically significant reduction in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. This in turn can decrease your risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and transient ischemic attacks.
  3. Maintenance of body weight: your weight reflects the balance between what you take in during the day and what you expend. With regular walks at a brisk pace, you expend energy and burn calories, this along with a healthy balanced diet can help maintain your weight.
  4. Improved mental health: when you walk, especially in a pleasant environment, you can experience a reduction in both depression and anxiety. People who walk regularly also experience better sleep quality and duration.

When you start walking the best thing to do is walk however feels natural for you, keep a comfortable pace for yourself as you start. Keeping good posture in mind is important as well. Keeping your head and spine straight to ensure that you are not leaning forward or backward as this will decrease pressure on your joints and help keep your shoulders and arms relaxed letting them swing naturally. Of course, you can look down to avoid obstacles but try to not look down for too long.

When it comes to breathing this should also feel as natural as possible. It should be regular and steady. Avoid holding your breath or forcing yourself to take deep breaths. Slow your pace to catch your breath if needed.

More of a good thing is always better, walking more regularly will allow for the good effects to accumulate. Taking long breaks in between walking sessions will lower the cumulative effects.

There is no specific warmup needed before walking but starting at a slower pace to allow your body to work through the range of motion needed and stretch your muscles before speeding up to a moderate/ brisk pace is advised.

When it comes to walking, footwear is a very important aspect to consider. You don’t need to go out and buy any fancy walking shoes, anything that you can walk comfortably in for an extended period will do. Hiking shoes can be heavy and inflexible so should only be worn if you plan on walking on rough terrain. Shoes designed specifically for running are meant for a forward bent body, when walking up straight this could change the distribution of stress on your legs and low back.

Your walking shoes should fit comfortably and allow you to wiggle your toes. They should support both your heel and the arch of your foot. Walking shoes do not need to be ‘broken in’ so ensure that they are comfortable in the store, or don’t buy them.

Helpful tip: buy shoes at night as your feet swell by the end of the day and what may feel comfortable in the morning might not be by the end of the day.

When it comes to clothing once again, the goal is to be comfortable. Layers are the best option so you can add and take off as you walk depending on your pace. Inner layers should provide insulation and moisture wick technology to help keep your skin dry. In cold, winter weather be sure to add a hat and gloves to contribute to thermal comfort. On hot summer days protect yourself from UV exposure by wearing lightweight clothing that covers enough skin, wear a hat and sunblock as well.

Water intake is incredibly important while walking to replenish the fluids you are losing, hydration is key!

Introducing walking into your life can be quite simple, start slow and build up with time. The weather is warming up, the flowers are blooming and it’s a great time to start! If you have any questions or would like some more advise on how to get started, please don’t hesitate to ask us here at Halton Chiropractic Clinic.