Did you know that something as simple as walking more can greatly improve your health? Although it is a very basic form of exercising, over 90 million Americans report walking regularly to help stay fit. Walking is a low impact exercise, doesn’t require a gym membership, and can be done almost anywhere and any time. But before lacing up your walking shoes, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Talk to a doctor before starting any exercise programs. Because your body’s muscles absorb blood sugar and prevent it from building up in the blood stream, walking can be a great way to help stabilize your glucose levels. Walking will also increase your heart health, improve blood flow, burn fat and even make you feel more energetic. However, before starting any new diet or exercise, it is important for you to get a good idea of your overall health
- Don’t push yourself, but be consistent. If you can’t walk for half an hour at first, start out for 5 minutes, then increase the time to 7 or 10 minutes the next week. Park a few cars down from your normal spot at the grocery store and walk a little farther. Where and when you start isn’t important, but where you finish and how you feel is!
- Set a goal for yourself, and stick with it. For examply, your goal is to walk 30 minutes today, but your schedule is very busy. By breaking the time up into three 10 minute segments, you can still meet your goals without having to compromise a solid half hour of your plans.
- The proper footwear can make a huge difference. You don’t need to go out and buy expensive cross trainers, but make sure your shoes are not too tight or loose enough to rub and blister. If you experience foot numbness due to diabetes, make sure to check your feet often for blisters, sores and cuts.
- Pack lightly, but remember the essentials! Make a list for yourself before stepping off your front porch. Cell phone, water, house keys? Check! A diabetes ID bracelet is very important, as are snacks or hard candies in the event of a drop in your blood sugar. You may need to check your glucose levels more frequently while exercising, be it before, during or after. And if you are doing your walking in the evenings or early mornings, reflective tape on your clothing can be a life saver.
- Find others to exercise with, for safety, companionship and even for motivation. A pet dog is an enthusiastic walking companion and is always motivated for a jaunt around the block. Maybe your friends are also interested in getting fit? ‘Walking groups’ were formed for this very reason. Walking groups are simply that—people who come together to walk. The group can be walking for a goal, like raising money for charities. Or it can be friends from work or church, or even strangers who come together because they have something in common. With a bit of digging, you can probably find a walking group in your city or town. If not, start your own!
It is important to have a great time when walking, but it is also important to stay safe. Following these tips is a step in the right direction for better health.
Fox, Carolyn, ed. “Talking the Walk.” Comp. Stacey Francisco. Country Walkers (n.d.): n. pag. Countrywalkers.com. 2008. Web. 09 Jan. 2012.
Hill, James O. “Diabetes Care.” Walking and Type 2 Diabetes. American Diabetes Association, June 2005. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.
Stoltz, Craig. “Walking and Diabetes–What You Need to Know.” About.com. N.p., 27 Apr. 2010. Web. 6 Jan. 2012.