Walking is the simplest, safest and one of the most effective forms of exercise which can benefit your health. Even though you may be too busy to do any exercise, you are still recommended to carry out at least 15 - 20 minutes of brisk walking everyday. Brisk walking (walk a mile, approximate 1.6 km in 15 to 20 minutes) has been shown to give long-term health benefits if we do it regularly and keep it as a lifelong exercise program.
Benefits of brisk walking:
- it burns calories to help maintain a healthy body weight.
- it reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
- it improves cardio-respiratory fitness.
- it reduces blood cholesterol.
- it enhances mental alertness and memory.
- it prevents osteoporosis.
- it helps build up and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
- it improves strength, mobility and balance in elderly.
- it can improve the fitness status of pregnant and post-natal women.
- it improves the control of blood glucose level and reduce medications for diabetes patients.
Before starting the exercise program, you should consult a doctor if you:
- have chronic medical disease, e.g. heart disease, respiratory disease.
- experience chest pain or discomfort during or right after exercise.
- tend to lose consciousness due to dizziness.
- feel shortness of breath after mild exertion.
- are middle-aged or older, have not been physically active, or plan a relatively vigorous exercise program.
- have joint problems, e.g. signs and symptoms of swelling, heat, pain or stiffness etc. around a joint.
Points to note:
- Brisk walking is a moderate intensity physical activity for most healthy people. Performing 30 minutes of physical activity of moderate intensity everyday is beneficial to health. You can do it all at once or in short sessions, but not less than 10 minutes each time. For 30 minutes of walking in a moderate speed, you are likely to accumulate 3000 - 4000 steps. Besides, you can try to accumulate a total of 9000 - 10000 steps everyday in order to stay in an active lifestyle for maintaining a good health. Of course, to prevent injuries, you should start out with short distances and slow speed, and then build up gradually.
- Pedometer is a mini-device designed for easily monitoring your walking steps every day. Please wear and use the pedometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Set up a personal goal and check your pedometer daily. It can help you to create a good habit of regular walking exercise.
- Wear socks and remember the followings when choosing shoes:
- Find a pair of shoes proper fit to provide cushioning and stability for walking
- Plenty of room for the toes with a snug, comfortable heel.
- Solid support and good cushioning inside the shoe.
- Firm, resistant heel counter outside the shoe.
- Shoes should be flexible but soles should be non-slippery.
- Ensure a safe walking path (e.g. not slippery) which should also be well-lit and free of hidden obstacles.
- Keep good posture and techniques when walking:
- Keep a straight posture; relax shoulders.
- Keep relaxed rather than tense your muscles.
- Step gently with the heels and keep striding normally. Swing your arms naturally.
- Walk instead of travel by car when destination is not too far, may consider get off the public transport one or two stops before your destination and walk the rest of the way.
- Taking a brisk walk with a friend can be fun.
- Walk along designated walking trails in the early morning and toward the end of the day to relieve tension and relax.
- Wear a pedometer and set up an achievable goal.
- For more details, you may wish to seek the advices of health and fitness professionals.
When brisk walking become one of your habits, you will surely enjoy the health benefit it brings. Let’s put on your shoes now, step out and start brisk walking!
For more information on suitable venue for brisk walking or leisure program, please visit the website of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk