Walking is one of the easiest and most pleasant ways to get a good workout. Walking is an aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness and helps you control your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Plus, it makes you feel great! During a neighborhood stroll, your body produces endorphins which relax the mind and relieve stress and anxiety.
Want to get started? Here’s what you’ll need to know.
Footwear for Walking
Look for a shoe that’s stable and well-cushioned. Both running and walking shoes should fit the bill, but some people might prefer specialty walking shoes. What’s the difference between the two? While running shoes pack lots of cushioning for your heels and forefoot, walking shoes are lighter and a little less bulky.
Indulge in some new shoes for your new walking regimen and don’t be afraid to splurge; your shoes are really the only piece of equipment you’ll need to invest in.
Buy shoes late in the afternoon, when your feet are swollen from walking all day. This will ensure that you’re nice and comfy throughout your walk. Try on new shoes with the same socks that you plan to wear while exercising. Try both the left and right shoes on and lace them up. Stroll around the store for a minute to see how they feel. Try on at least four pairs before deciding on one.
Which Shoe is Your Type?
Shoe shapes can vary. You’ve got your standard width, but also narrow and wide fits. When you try the shoes on, they should fit snugly around your heel. Are your feet sliding around in the shoes? Toss them. There should be a little space between your big toe and the end of the shoe – somewhere around a half to a full thumbs width. Can you wiggle your toes? You should be able to.
Think you found the perfect pair? Now take them off and check the shoe’s quality. Try the “vertical heel test.” Place the shoe on a flat surface, like a countertop, look at the shoe from the back, and check to ensure the heel is straight and perpendicular. Next, make sure the stitching is intact connecting the midsole to the upper structure of the shoe. Feel along the inside of the shoe for any weird bumps.
Caring for Your Walking Feet
Wear the right socks. Socks should be thick and absorbent. Acrylic socks are better for walking than cotton.
Polish your Pods. Dry your feet thoroughly after showering. You can sprinkle powder on your toes before putting on your socks and shoes to absorb sweat. Clip your toenails in a straight, lateral line – not curved down into the sides.
Take Care of Ouchies. Visit your foot and ankle specialist if you have or start to develop corns, calluses, bunions, or hammertoes. You can take care of a blister by yourself at home by draining the fluid with a sterilized needle. Don’t pick off the skin covering the blister. Apply an antibiotic cream and cover with a bandage.
Time to Walk!
Loosen up your Achilles, calf muscles, hamstrings, and quadriceps with slow, gentle stretching. Your foot and ankle specialist can provide you with some stretches if you need help. Stretching before and after walking can reduce muscle soreness and stiffness and may help prevent muscle injuries.
If you want to make a habit out of walking, you’ll need to start slow and gradually increase your time and mileage. Work your way up to a speed that will take you one mile in fifteen minutes (4 mph). Challenge yourself to get to a level of fitness where you can walk for 30 minutes at that pace without stopping for rest. A healthy walking habit usually features 4-5 walks per week, with each walk lasting 45 minutes to an hour.
If you would like more information, we encourage you to call us at (877) 989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.
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