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Gabriel Patterson, Winnipeg Personal Trainer on How You Can Walk Your Way to Fitness

These days when someone mentions fitness, the next image is of someone heavily working out in the gym and copiously perspiring. If such images put you off the idea of looking after yourself, all is by no means lost. “There is a straightforward exercise that is both highly effective and perhaps because of its simplicity, finds itself often overlooked. We are, of course, referring to walking,” chuckled Gabriel Patterson, Winnipeg personal trainer and self enhancement coach.

Countless studies show that walking helps keep diabetes at bay by improving the body’s insulin production. The same studies show it helps keep our bones, thus offsetting osteoporosis. It improves our strength, flexibility, and stamina. So, walking has quite a lot going for it! That’s not to mention improvements to our sleeping patterns, cognitive skills, help with depression, and of course the age-old quest of weight loss. It’s any wonder British author G.M. Trevelyan famously said, ‘I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.’

Short bursts:

According to a study featured in The New England Journal of Medicine, even walking half a mile a day may reduce mortality. Additionally, it seems there are benefits to be had by applying the little but often principle. Three ten minute bursts will do you nearly as much good as a 30-minute walk.

Brisk walking:

Brisk walking, perhaps unsurprisingly, is found to be the most effective. Dr. Carl Caspersen of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, discovered that taking a thirty-minute brisk walk several times a week can decrease your chances of developing a disease. And the great thing about this form of exercise is that practically anyone can do it. No training is needed, and it costs nothing. All that’s required is for you to get up and go!

A 15-minute burst:

Other studies show that even a 15-minute burst may counteract such maladies as tension and anxiety as much if not more than a mild tranquilizer. As with other forms of exercise, walking triggers the release of endorphins with their popular pain relief properties that bring about a state of calm and relaxation.

Make it enjoyable:

For all the apparent benefits, though, many will view walking as a chore and not something to enjoy. Here are a few things you can do to increase your enjoyment of this simple yet remarkably healthy exercise.

The right clothes:

Wearing comfortable and loose-fitting clothes will go a long way to enhance your enjoyment. Make sure you wear lightweight shoes with plenty of wiggle room for your toes. As a general rule, walking shoes ought to be just a little bigger than your regular shoes. Additionally, don’t forget to bring some water to stay hydrated, particularly if you plan on walking for more than half an hour.

Pace yourself:

For the first 5 minutes, set yourself a gentle and relaxed pace while keeping an upright posture. Keep elbows and knees bent slightly. Don’t clench your fists as you walk but let them form into a comfortable and natural cup shape.

After the warm-up:

After 5 minutes or so, settle into a natural but brisk stride. Ensure the heel of your foot lands on the ground first and roll your foot forward so that your foot leaves the ground from the toes. This is why soft, flexible shoes are needed to get the most out your walking. As a rule of thumb, you should feel relaxed enough as you walk to keep up a natural conversation without running out of breath. If this is new to you and you haven’t walked any distance for some time, you can gradually increase your time and distance. Remember to enjoy it!

A few aches? Don’t panic:

Expect to experience typical signs of exertion, such as increased heart and breathing rates. “Really listen to your body, said Gabriel Patterson. A few aches are perfectly normal if you are new to walking as a form of exercise, but if you feel you are pushing yourself too hard, cut back a little and work your way up gradually. It’s important not to overdo things to the point where you feel like giving up. There’s no shame in taking a short break if you think you must.

The benefits of walking are endless. In addition to everything mentioned here, many walkers find they are blindsided by their most creative ideas while taking a walk, and there is evidence to show walking does boost creativity.

Another benefit is that walking is an exercise that comes with far fewer risks of injury than many other forms of exercise. So next time you get a chance, get up and go for that walk. Your body will thank you for it.



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