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Labette Health

Walking for exercise: A beginner's guide

Sept. 23, 2022—If you want to become more active but aren't sure how to begin, it doesn't get much simpler than walking. All you have to do is put on some comfortable clothes, slip on a good pair of shoes and then head out the door.

But if you want to make walking a major part of your fitness program, here are some things to keep in mind:

Pick the perfect posture. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), when you walk you should:

  • Stand up tall.
  • Focus on the horizon, not the ground.
  • Lift your chest and tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Bend your arms, swinging them naturally as you walk.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Keep your front leg straight—but don't lock it.
  • Aim your knees and toes forward.
  • Land on your heel and roll through the foot.

Choose comfy clothes. Wear clothes and socks made of synthetic wicking fabrics that will draw the sweat from your skin. If you're going to be walking in warm weather, wear light-colored clothing. On cool days, wear layers of clothing so you can peel them off as you warm up.

Wear shoes made for walking. They should be lightweight and breathable, with plenty of cushioning at the heel.

Stretch before you stroll. Stretch your back, shoulders and arms before you set out for your walk. Warm up with a little walking in place or a march around the house.

Take it slow. If it's been a while, don't sweat your first walk. Begin by going for 10 or 15 minutes. You can gradually increase your time and distance in the days ahead. Don't walk too fast, either. If you can't carry on a conversation while you walk, you should slow down.

Monitor your movement. Keep a log of your activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. But it's OK if you can't fit in more than five minutes here and 10 minutes there. After a while, your walking will become routine—a habit you won't want to break.

Now that you know the right way to walk, learn the health benefits of this simple exercise.

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