Walking Your Way to Fitness

powerwalkingReady to lose weight? Consider walking and not running towards your fitness goals.  A recent British study found that people who walk for regular exercise weighed less than those who participated in other types of physical activity, including: running, swimming and cycling.

Walking works well for just about every person regardless of what type shape they are in. However,  by increasing your activity level it does put strain on your muscles, joints and heart.  If you have not been exercising regularly it is a good idea to check in with one of the Body One Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation specialists to be sure your body is healthy enough for exercise.

Once you’ve started walking, be sure to stay aware of signs that you are overdoing it.  “Pay attention and listen to your body’s signals,” Dr. Brian Pease co-founder of Body One Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation said. “Strain, Pain, dizziness or nausea can be signs that you are pushing yourself too hard.”

Other red flags to be aware of are chest pain, severe headaches or extreme muscle cramping. If any of those symptoms should develop take a break from your work out and check in with your Body One specialist.

When starting off a walking program, it is important to ease yourself into it, building to 30-60 minutes of walking most days of the week.  After consulting with your Body One specialist, you can decide what is healthiest for you. That could simply mean fitting in 10 minutes of motion a day. Each week attempt to boost that daily total by 5 minutes. The gradual increase will help your body adjust to exercising and lower your risk of injury.

“A great thing about walking is that it doesn’t have to be done all at once,” Dr. Pease said. “If you don’t have the time to exercise for 30-60 minutes, or that’s too much for your body at one time, split it up. You’ll burn as many calories and gain the same health benefits.

With any new exercise regimen a small amount of soreness or pain can occur. For example your calves may feel tight the following day after walking  a long distance. For minor soreness, ice can be applied to the sore area to help alleviate the pain.

Take a day or two off from exercising if your soreness is limiting your movements or if your aches are around your joints rather than just in your muscles. If taking a few days off doesn’t resolve the issue be sure to see your Body One provider to be certain that that you haven’t injured yourself.