To maximize the health benefits that walking provides, consider these tips and guidelines:
Prep the body
Stretch your muscles before you walk and start with a five-minute stroll to warm up before kicking it into a brisk walk for ideally about 30 minutes.
Work up a sweat
Walk to the point where breathing becomes heavier and you begin to perspire. Brisk walking will get the heart pumping and increase blood flow to all parts of the body.
Create a challenge
To increase the intensity of your walk, consider traveling along a route that includes inclines and downhill slopes. You can also carry hand weights or add ankle weights.
Wear good shoes and use proper posture
Be sure to wear supportive shoes, which can help prevent injury. Form is also important.
“Poor posture can lead to neck and back pain, as well as getting fatigued more quickly,” Dr. McCauley points out.
Walk with your head held high, looking forward as opposed to the ground. Shoulders should be held back to avoid slouching. Bend your elbows to allow a natural swing of the arms and allow your feet to roll from heel to toe on the ground. Abdominal muscles should be gently tightened and engaged.
Track your progress
With so many fitness apps available, it’s easy to download one to track your progress, which can be a big motivator and source of inspiration. These apps not only track how long or far you walk but they can also track progress cumulatively.
“If you struggle making time for exercise, you can set a reminder on your phone or enlist a walking partner to hold you accountable,” Dr. McCauley suggests. “Don’t give up. Start slow and build on it.”