News & Media

Walking: Simple Path to Better Health

Media Contact Joe Poelker
Release Date: 08/07/2018 By Lisa Ahlers
St. Anthony’s Physical Therapy Assistant
Couple walking

Our summer heat kept a lot of us indoors and maybe led us to exercise less. If you're looking to be more active, whether it's to begin a workout to lose weight, to improve cardiovascular health or to relieve stress, consider walking.
Walking is functional. If no major bodily injury or disease process is active, then it is relatively easy to do and the health benefits are numerous. Cardiovascular exercise helps the heart, burns more calories and provides the brain and all the body with a better, more oxygenated blood supply. This may even lead to better sleep.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise each week. This would mean 30 minutes a day for five days a week. Or, you can exercise more often for a shorter amount of time. The American Heart Association provides good information on how to figure your target heart range and other advice for safe workout considerations.
Walking is inexpensive. All you need is comfortable clothing, safe walking environments and good shoes.
Before you start, check your gear. Shoe support changes continually. When you walk regularly, you should buy new shoes every five to eight months. You should be able to get 300 to 500 miles per pair of shoes. Body weight and the quality of shoes factor in as well. Shoes that tie are best to support the arch, heel and inner foot. If you notice any wearing of the sole, especially at the heel area, invest in a new pair before starting or progressing your distance. Avoid shoes without a heel, loose fitting shoes that allow extra heel motion, and shoes that don’t support the arch fully.
It would be helpful to learn a few stretches you can do after walks to help with cool downs and keep your calf and thigh muscles from becoming too tight. Use good posture to improve lung and diaphragm function. Drink plenty of fluids, especially in the heat and when increasing distances, to prevent dehydration, muscle cramping and fatigue.
Take a friend. This helps with keeping you motivated and improves overall satisfaction and commitment to the exercise.
If you notice you are having problems with any pain or other issues, you can always talk to your doctor about orders for physical therapy. St Anthony’s outpatient sports and physical therapy serves walkers, runners and weekend warriors for various musculoskeletal injuries.