Surprisingly, walking provides one of the best ways one can maintain health and wellness, especially for joints and bones. While walking may not be the challenging, high intensity workout some people are used, it does come with many benefits---even for those who are fit already--including:
- Builds muscles
- Slows the onset of arthritis
- Helps maintain weight
- Prevents falls by building balance
- Reduces risk for osteoporosis
- Improves range of motion
When you can enjoy all of these health benefits, why wouldn’t you walk everyday, starting today!
Starting a Walking Program
Of course, if you are recovering from a recent injury or surgery or have a chronic condition, you should see your doctor before beginning a walking program. For all others wishing to get started, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following for a walking routine:
When you start your exercise program, warm up by walking as you normally would for 5 minutes, then pick up the pace to whatever speed gets your heart beating faster and your lungs breathing deeper. Keep up the faster pace for about 15 minutes. While you walk:
- Swing your arms
- Keep your head up, back straight, and abdomen flat
- Point your toes straight ahead
- Take long strides, but do not strain
Cool down by walking at your warm-up speed again for 5 more minutes. Do gentle stretching exercises when you are done.
Establish a Routine
Repeat the above routine 3 or 4 days a week with days for rest in between. After 2 weeks, add 5 minutes to the strenuous part of your walk. Keep adding 5 minutes every 2 weeks as you gradually build strength and endurance.
Another way to build fitness with a walking program is to use walking sticks or poles. Using a stick in each hand gives your upper body a better workout and provides your lower body with more stability.
During exercise, be sure to keep a water bottle handy to prevent dehydration. Drink 1 pint of water 15 minutes before you start walking, and another pint after you cool down. Have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
If the above-mentioned health benefits are important to you, consider a walking program. Bring a friend along for accountability and stay committed. No matter what age or what level of exercise you are used to, results from walking are tremendous and come immediately. If you want to consult with one of our orthopaedic surgeons, call us at 915-249-4000. We’ll consult with you on your best path for orthopedic wellness, including walking.