Celebrate National Walking Day with a stroll or hikeApr 01, 2021 12:24PM ● By Greg James
Get out and stretch those legs with a good walk around the block. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Stop talkin’ and start walkin’! Get up, get out and form an exercise plan because National Walking Day is April 7.
“Walking at a nice pace will give you all the exercise you need for your heart and lungs,” said Bill Caughey, personal trainer at Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness center.
Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your health. Just 30 minutes a day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat and boost muscle power and endurance.
Exercise does not need to be vigorous or done for long periods of time to improve your health. A 2007 study by betterhealth.com of inactive women, found that even low levels of exercise, 75 minutes a week, improved fitness levels immensely compared to a non-exercising group.
“Walking forces your heart and lungs to work. I prefer having my clients walk rather than run. The reason is running is high impact and will bother their hips, knees and ankles,” Caughey said.
Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment and can be done at any time of the day.
“Young folks and older folks can do it. There is no down side. Start by going around your block once. Listen to your body, if once around is good it is OK. The next day you might do a little more. In two or three weeks you could easily walk a mile,” Caughey said.
Walking is known as a weight bearing exercise. Its benefits include: reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved management of conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes and reduced body fat.
To get the health benefits, try to walk at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can each day. Brisk means you can still talk, but not sing. Moderate activities pose little health risk, but if you have a medical condition speak to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Some suggestions to build walking into your daily routine include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking far away from the store entrance and walking to your shopping destination, if possible.
“At a certain point you will feel good, the endorphins are being released. A suggestion when you walk, expand your gate (lengthen your stride). It will stretch your hips and joints and the muscles around them,” Caughey said. “Sweating is not a function of how hard you have exercised.”
Walking is a low-cost exercise. Good shoes and loose fitting clothes are important.
“Shoes are important, watch them closely. If you use them regularly the soles will get crushed. That is natural. Be prepared to get new ones about every six months,” Caughey said.
Walking can be used along with resistance training to increase fitness levels. Caughey uses it for his personal training experience.
“I am a competitive powerlifter. After a strenuous workout I will walk around the block or on the treadmill. It will flush my body full of blood and carry nutrients all over. It feeds the parts of my body that need it. Walking is also great after a crappy day at work. Come home and immediately go for a walk. It will settle your mind and allow your body to relax. Then go eat dinner and do your evening chores,” he said.
Personal trainers and physical therapists are available to help you make a plan to improve your health. Caughey can be contacted through kopfc.com for more information. He has earned six certifications including personal training, youth fitness and strength and conditioning. He is a master trainer through the International Sports and Sciences Association.