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Walk for the Health of it

“Keep moving”-WALK. Walking is the perfect exercise. Walking is the
easiest and quickest way to achieve physical fitness. Walking not only
firms up muscle, but also burns off calories. No matter what the pace—from
a slow stroll to a brisk arm-swinging stride, you can reap the benefits of
a regular walking program.

When you walk, every part of your body is used, from your eyes to your
toes. Walking produces beneficial changes in the functioning of the
internal organs-especially the heart, lungs and circulatory system. The
heartbeat becomes stronger and steadier, breathing becomes deeper and
circulation improves.

No matter at what pace, walking burns off calories. Of course, the
faster you walk, the more calories you will use up. However, if you
can’t or don’t want to walk fast, walk longer. For example, if you walk
at a pace of 4 miles/hour (mph) in 15 minutes and cover one mile, you
will use 110 calories. At a pace of 3 mph for one and a tenth mile, you
will also burn off 110 calories.

If you have been doing nothing more than moving around the house,
walking is the perfect exercise to begin a new fitness program. Start
with the equivalent of one block on level ground. As soon as you are
comfortable walking one block, increase your distance until you are able
to cover four to five miles in about an hour. One of the most ideal
places to find an easy level area to walk is at a shopping mall. Many
malls encourage walkers to use their space before shopping hours.

You will experience benefits regardless what pace you walk. It is
important that you maintain correct posture and increase your stride by
adding about 6 inches to the average length. Wear well-fitting shoes
with good support. There are a variety of acceptable walking shoes
available today at stores specializing in sports and fitness. For those
of you planning to begin a walking program and those of you already
engaged in one, here are a few tips:

  1. Swing your arms easily in opposition to your legs. That is,
    when the left leg is forward, the right arm should be forward and
    vice-versa. The trunk of your body will float along easily. The body
    should move as little as possible in a good walk.
  2. Strive for correct body alignment by keeping your feet forward
    and parallel, with arches lifted and balanced. Keep your abdomen flat
    and your hips tucked under. Your head should be erect and your chin
  3. Prepare for an easy transfer of weight by swinging your legs
    forward with the action initiated at the hip joint. Let your legs push.
  4. Take equal and comfortable steps. If possible, lengthen your
  5. Keep your head and chin up, look proud and make your walk easy.

Keep in mind, it is never too late to become physically fit. Walking is
the perfect way to begin. The end results are limitless.

The benefits . . .

  • Increased strength, endurance and coordination
  • Increased joint flexibility
  • Reduced joint stiffness and soreness
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved ability to relax and sleep

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    Last Reviewed: May 01, 2001

    University of Cincinnati
    Assistant Director

    Department of Family Medicine

    College of Medicine

    University of Cincinnati