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Walking is one of the easiest ways to be physically active. You can do it almost anywhere and at any time. Walking is also inexpensive — all you need is a pair of shoes with sturdy heel support. Walking may:
For all of these reasons, people have started walking programs. If you would like to start your own program, read and follow the information provided in this article.
Answer the following questions before you begin a walking program.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, please check with your healthcare provider before starting a walking program or other form of physical activity.
Leave time in your busy schedule to follow a walking program that will work for you. Keep the following points in mind as you plan your program:
Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. If you cannot do 30 minutes at a time, try walking for shorter amounts and gradually working up to it.
Keep safety in mind when you plan your route and the time of your walk:
Stretch gently after you warm up your muscles with an easy 5-minute walk, and again after you cool down. Try doing the stretches listed below. Do not bounce or hold your breath when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.
Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
|Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about 3 to 4 feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.|
Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
|Pull your right foot to your buttocks with your right hand. Stand straight and keep your knee pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your left foot and hand.|
Sit on a sturdy bench or hard surface so that your left leg is stretched out on the bench with your toes pointing up. Keep your right foot flat on the floor. Straighten your back, and if you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your right leg. (If you do not yet feel a stretch, lean forward from your hips until you do feel a stretch.)
Walking correctly is very important:
If you walk less than three times per week, give yourself more than a week before increasing your pace and frequency.