“Next week I’m going to start exercising”. Does this phrase sound familiar? “Next week” I’m going to start this and I’m going to do that. Stop delaying and get started today. You can be a body builder who lives at the gym or a casual exerciser, either way walking poles can have value to you.
What are walking poles?
Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest, and even your upper back muscles as you walk. Just as the name implies, a walking pole is literally a pole for helping us walk. “When we typically walk, we use less than 50% of our major muscles, but with a pole we can use up to 90% of our muscles” according to Keenfit. Walking poles can help us maneuver through rouged terrain and they even reduce stress on back, knees, legs, and feet by helping us keep our balance!
How should I get started?
Tips to make walking more enjoyable:
- The most important aspect of getting started is your shoe selection. Be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and that provide support for your feet. Improper fitting shoes can cause not only foot discomfort, but can contribute to knee and even back pain!
- Find a good place to walk. Scenic locations may be the most enjoyable. Is your walking path straight or curved? Are the surfaces smooth or rough? Will there be hills and valleys? The location you choose to walk can directly impact your experience. Straight paths may quickly become boring while curved paths may offer more diversity in your surroundings. If you are new to walking, you may want to start on easy terrain and slowly adjust to more rugged terrain where it may be more difficult.
- Have an exercise playlist. In other words, listening to music as you walk cannot only provide motivation, but can help alleviate boredom from low-key activities. Walking can provide time for reflection about life events and can help you feel better about yourself.
- Set reasonable expectations about your progress. If you are not accustomed to exercise, don’t expect to walk for an hour. Start walking for 15 to 20 minutes. Just get active! As you learn your limitations, slowly increase the time you walk or find more challenging terrain to conquer.
- Develop a strong mental attitude about walking. Walking once a month will not help your stamina, but walking a couple times a week will help. Having a consistent routine can help you develop the mental aspect for walking to be healthier.
- Hydration is paramount. Begin an hour before each walk by consuming at least 8-16 ounces of water. If you know you will be walking long distances, drink extra water. You may even need to bring a water bottle with you on your journey. Being properly hydrated can keep you feeling well.
Walking is a great cardiovascular activity. Rather walking, jogging, or running, if you want to get the most productivity from your time spent doing this activity, walking poles can provide you with more efficiency. Consider these benefits: The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, thus causing the increased calorie burn. Walking poles improve balance and stability. “They help us maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles. Walking poles even take some of the load off our lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems” according to Edward Laskowski, M.D.
Even if you are overweight or obese, the difference between being obese and getting no exercise and being obese and getting some activity can be significant when it comes to how you feel both mentally and physically. Walking can be a great way to not only improve your health, but also reflect on life events.
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