Over lockdown, many people fell in love with walking. But doing something frequently doesn’t quite mean you’re doing it right. While this exercise is widely loved for its low impact and accessibility, some mistakes could be putting you at risk.
Whether walking is a part of your daily routine or you’re just beginning, these nine mistakes are all too common. Fortunately, once you’re aware of them, they’re easy to fix.
Find the perfect fit
If you’re an active person, it’s worthwhile finding the right pair of shoes for your feet. This may depend on the structure of your feet and the way that you walk. Generally speaking, look for shoes that are breathable, water resistant and have a padded and supportive heal. If in doubt, ask a professional.
Turn down the volume
If you love to lose yourself in music or podcasts while walking, you may be putting yourself at risk. Make sure you keep your volume low enough to easily hear car horns, people and cyclists around you.
Stand up tall
Leave those slouched shoulders at your desk. When you walk, focus on standing tall with your shoulders back and your eyes looking forward. This will help you to breathe more deeply and is better for your back.
Bring the pooch
Did someone say ‘walkies’? Taking your canine companion on your walk will likely be the highlight of their day and has been proven to increase your time out and about. It’s a win-win.
Mix it up
If you are beginning to find your walking routine boring, try changing up your route. Exploring your area on foot can be a great way to discover hidden gems and reconnect with your community and surroundings. Who knew there was a great little café just a few blocks away?
Slip, slop, slap
It may not be lying on a beach, but spending even 20 minutes outdoors could cause skin damage. Put on sunscreen an hour before you plan to walk. Wear a hat and sunglasses when you do go outside.
Dress for the occasion
Wear clothes that give you maximum mobility and comfort. Clothes that are too tight can cause discomfort and even chafing. Wear clothes that breathe and bring along an extra-thin layer that can be worn or removed as you heat up and cool down. If you’re walking in the early morning, evening or night, consider wearing brighter colours or reflective fabrics to help drivers and cyclists see you.
According to WebMD, people who track their steps take around 27 per cent more of them than those who don’t. You can use a phone app, a tech savvy watch or a Fitbit. It may be better to track the number of steps you take or the distance you cover, rather than your speed, as this means you can continue to meet or beat your exercise goals, even on days when you have less pep in your step.
Shake it out
Stretching after every walk is a must. It doesn’t have to be a full-on yoga session, but gently stretching out your calves, thighs and back can help to prevent strain and stiffness. Just five minutes of stretching after each walk can help to improve flexibility and minimise injury.
How often do you go for walks? How many of these common mistakes do you make? What recommendations do you have for people who are new to walking?
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