Harrington Family Health Center has a walking track that is great for beginners. If you have any health concerns or medical conditions, be sure to check with your doctor for advice before you start any exercise program.
The walking track is available to all and accessible even in the winter months. Walking is one of the easiest and most profitable forms of exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothing and desire.
How to start: First of all start out slow and easy. For most people this means walking 7 laps. Do this every day for a week. If this was easy, add 2 laps to your walk next week. Keep adding 2 laps until you are walking as long as desired.
WATCH your posture. Walk tall. Hold your head up with eyes forword. Your shoulders should be down, back and relaxed. Tighten your abdonimal muscles and buttocks and fall into a natural stride.
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incoroporate a warm up, cool down, and stretches into your routine. Start walking at a slow warm up pace, stop and do a few warm up flexibility drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with a slower cool down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel better and prevent injuries.
If you are walking for general health benefits try to walk 30 minutes a day most days of the week at a talking pace (You can carry on a conversation).
To improve cardiovascular fitnessyou should walk 3 to 4 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. At this pace you are breathing hard but not gasping for air.
If walking for weight loss you should walk a minimum of 5 days a week, 45 to 60 minutes at a brisk pace.
Benefits of walking:
- Burns calories
- Strengthens back muscles
- Slims your waist
- Easy on your joints
- Strengthens your bones
- Lowers blood pressure
- Allows time with family and friends
- Shapes and tones your legs and butt
- Cuts cholesterol
- Reduces stress
- Sleep better
- Reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes and more
- Improves mood and outlook on life
- Can be done almost anywhere
- Requires no equipment
- AND it’s free
Stretching will add flexibility and can make your walking more comfortable.
Warm up for 5 minutes at an easy walking pace before stretching, never stretch cold muscles or you risk tearing them. Incorporate mobility exercises designed to take a muscle and joint through its range of motion. You will start at the top of your body and work your way down.
Find an upright pole or fence or wall that will support you for leaning into on some stretches.
Stretches and Mobility Exercises for Walker
Head Circles: Make 1/4 circles with head. Start with your ear near your shoulder on on side, rotate your head around to the front, ending with your ear near the shoulder on the other side. Roll your head back to the other side. Repeat 5-10 times.
Arm Circles: With one arm at a time, make backwards arm circles with your palm facing out, thumb pointed up. Repeat 10-15 times with each arm. Then make forward arm circles with palm facing in, thumb pointing down, repeat 10-15 times.
Hip Stretch: Stand up, take a half-step back with the right foot. Bend your left knee and shift your weight back to your right hip. While keeping the right leg straight, bend forward more and reach further down your right leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Switch sides.
Quadiceps Stretch: Stand erect, holding onto a wall for support. Bend your knee behind you so that you can grasp your foot, holding your heel against your butt. Stand up straight and push your knee gently back as far as you can, the hand just keeps the heel in place. (For some, it is more comfortable to use the hand from the opposite side.)
Calf Stretch: Stand an arm’s-length from the wall/post. Lean into wall/post, bracing yourself with your arms. Place one leg forward with knee bent – this leg will have no weight put on it. Keep other leg back, with knee straight and heel down. Keeping back straight, move hips toward wall until you feel a stretch. Hold 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat with other leg.
Soleus Calf Stretch: From the calf stretch position, bend the back knee so that the angle is changed to stretch the Achilles tendon. Keep your heel down, hold 15-30 seconds. Then switch legs.
Leg Extensions: Facing the pole, hold on with both hands. Bending at the knee, bring one leg forward, then extend and swing that leg back and behind. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs. Be cautious of hyperextending your lower back.
Cross Over Leg Swings: Holding onto the pole or fence rail with both hands, face forward. Swing one leg in front of your body gradually swinging higher. Swing about 10-15 times with each leg.
Please check with your primary care provider to discuss what stretches would be best for you.