No need for big heavy coats anymore…with the temperature in the low twenties, walking is a daily activity for many people. People walk for many reasons: for pleasure, to rid themselves of tensions, to find solitude, or to get from one place to another. Nearly everyone who walks regularly does so at least in part because of a conviction that it is good exercise. Often dismissed in the past as being "too easy" to be taken seriously, walking recently has gained new respect as a means of improving physical fitness.
What to Wear When Walking
A good pair of shoes is the only "special equipment" required by the walker. Any shoes that are comfortable, provide good support, and don't cause blisters or calluses will do, but here are some suggestions to help you make your selection:
- Good running shoes (the training models with heavy soles) are good walking shoes, as are some of the lighter trail and hiking boots and casual shoes with heavy rubber or crepe rubber soles.
- Whatever kind of shoe you select; it should have arch supports and should elevate the heel one-half to three-quarters of an inch above the sole of the foot.
- Choose a shoe with uppers made of materials that "breathe," such as leather or nylon mesh.
Weather will dictate the rest of your attire. As a general rule, you will want to wear lighter clothing than temperatures seem to indicate. Walking generates lots of body heat.
In cold weather, it's better to wear several layers of light clothing than one or two heavy layers. The extra layers help trap heat, and they are easy to shed if you get too warm. A wool watch cap or ski cap also will help trap body heat and provide protection for the head in very cold temperatures.
If you are free of serious health problems, you can start walking with confidence. Walking is not as strenuous as running, bicycling or swimming and consequently involves almost no risk to health. Of course, this statement assumes that you will exercise good judgment and not try to exceed the limits of your condition.
Most physicians recommend annual physical examinations for persons over 40 or 45 years of age. Also, if you have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems, you should consult your physician before beginning any kind of exercise program.
Hold head erect and keep back straight and abdomen flat. Toes should point straight ahead and arms should swing loosely at sides. Land on the heel of the foot and roll forward to drive off the ball of the foot. Walking only on the ball of the foot, or in a flat-footed style, may cause fatigue and soreness.
Take long, easy strides, but don't strain for distance. When walking up or down hills, or at a very rapid pace, lean forward slightly. Breathe deeply (with mouth open, if that is more comfortable).
Adapted from the National Institutes of Health recommendations
And finally, contact the Physiomobility health team for an assessment of your general fitness and proper care prior to starting a walking program, or if you need an assessment for orthotics or orthopaedic footwear.