Just try WalkingWhile some fitness enthusiasts relentlessly seek out the latest, trendiest exercise crazes, many others are returning to good, old-fashioned walking to help them feel great and get into shape. Whether enjoying the wonder of nature, or simply the company of a friend, walking can be a healthy, invigorating experience. And thanks to its convenience and simplicity, walking just might be right for you too, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). BENEFITS You don't need to become a member of an expensive gym to go walking. And except for a good pair of walking shoes, it requires virtually no equipment. "A sedentary lifestyle has debilitating influence on people's health as they age" says Dr. Jerome McAndrews, national spokesperson for the ACA. "Exercise is imperative." Walking accomplishes all of the following and more:
- Improves cardiovascular endurance
- Tones muscles of the lower body
- Burns calories: about 80 if walking 2 miles per hour, and about 107 if walking 4 1/2 miles per hour
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Move your arms freely, in coordination with the opposite leg.
- Don't stoop your head or look down as you walk. This will challenge the normal forward curve of your neck, which, in turn, will cause you to carry your weight improperly.
- Don't carry weights or dumbbells while walking. They're better used as a separate part of your exercise regimen. If you do carry weights while walking, be sure that they are light enough that they do not interfere with the "rhythm" of your arms and legs; in order to counterbalance the body, when your right arm moves forward, the left leg should be moving forward, etc.
- Expect a little soreness in the thighs and calves for the first week or two. If you experience more than soreness, check with your doctor of chiropractic.
- Walk briskly, with "purpose." Simply "sauntering," while relaxing and enjoyable, is not an effective form of cardiovascular exercise.