Walking: A step in the right direction

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Oct 16, 2017
Quick Bites

  • Walking is one of the easiest ways for you to be physically active
  • Keep safety in mind as you plan when and where you walk
  • Try to walk daily


Walking is one of the easiest ways for you to be physically active. Walking is inexpensive, and you can walk almost anywhere and at any time.

Walking may...

  • Give you more energy and stamina and lift your mood.
  • Tone your muscles and strengthen your bones.
  • Increase the number of calories your body uses.
  • Lower your risk of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Give you an opportunity to actively socialize with friends and family.

Walk safely

Keep safety in mind as you plan when and where you walk.

  • If you walk at dawn, dusk, or night, wear a re销ective vest or brightly colored clothing.
  • Walk in a group when possible and carry some identiЀcation with you, as well as a way to contact someone if you need help.
  • Notify family and friends of your group’s walking time and route.
  • Do not wear jewelry or headphones.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.

Stretch it out

Stretch gently after you warm up your muscles, and again after you cool down. Try doing the stretches listed below. Do not bounce or hold your breath when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.

  • Side Reach- Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

  • Wall Push- Lean your hands on a wall and place your feet about 3 to 4 feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  • Knee Pull- Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee toward your chest, hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg.
  • Leg Curl- Pull your right foot toward your buttocks with your right hand. Stand straight and keep your bent knee pointing straight down. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your other foot and hand.
  • Hamstring Stretch- - Sit on a sturdy bench or hard surface so that one leg is stretched out on the bench with your toes pointing up. Keep your other foot flat on the surface below. Straighten your back, and if you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold for 10 seconds and then change sides and repeat. If you do not feel a stretch, slowly lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch.

Step right this way

Walking with proper form is very important.

  • Walk with your chin up and your shoulders slightly back.
  • Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, then roll your weight forward.
  • Walk with your toes pointed forward.
  • Swing your arms naturally as you walk.

Try to walk daily. If you are walking fewer than three times per week, give yourself more than two weeks before increasing the pace and frequency.

Image source: Shutterstock

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