Guest Author Joe Fleming gives advice on getting started with a walking program:
Getting started is often the most difficult part of developing any healthy habit, mostly because one must not only pick up something new but discard something old. Beginnings are even more difficult when there are mental or physical obstacles blocking the right path.
The purpose of this blog is not to shame people into starting walking programs, but rather to empower them so they may overcome these obstacles and live healthier lives.
Eyes on the Prize
The first step in overcoming almost any obstacle has nothing to do with the blocks in the road but rather what awaits at the end. By focusing on the ultimate goal, the obstacles seem smaller and easier to overcome.
Physical fitness is the most-often cited benefit of walking. In fact, some of the latest research indicates that several bursts of activity spread over an entire day may be more beneficial than an hour at the gym followed by ten hours of sitting. Such a fitness schedule is tailor-made for walking, because walking requires no equipment other than a good pair of shoes and perhaps a knee brace, walking can be done any time of day or night, and people can walk in all weather.
Walking is also useful during injury recovery, largely because it increases blood flow and also releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Also, for those who are accustomed to more intense workouts, walking is a good interim fitness tool.
Everyone can walk for fitness, but not everyone should walk for fitness, at least not before taking a few precautions. These precautions are very simple and should not deter people from undertaking a walking program, and they should not affect performance in any way.
Do not automatically assume that age or injury history are obstacles to walking. INseat, look for specific signs like:
Lingering Pain: Some discomfort while walking is natural, especially if you are used to a sedentary lifestyle. However, if the discomfort persists and is severe enough to affect your gait, there may be an issue.
Noises: Be aware of any clicking or popping sounds, as these noises usually indicate that the connective tissues are irritated, and motion can make this injury worse.
Instability: Limping, inability to straighten the leg, and a wobbly feeling are all common side-effects of injury. If the increased blood flow from physical activity is not enough to address this issue, it probably needs your attention.
In all these cases, walking with braces may be the answer. Knee braces provide compression to reduce swelling and limit stress on the joints by supporting the area. Only wear the brace while walking, because wearing it all the time usually atrophies the knee muscles and makes the situation worse.
Even though they are not physical, mental obstacles can prevent you from walking just as much as age or injury. Here are a few common mental impediments, along with some thoughts that will help you move past them.
Security: In many places, it is simply not safe to be outside during certain times of the day or night. If security is an issue, get together with a group of walkers. This change will also motivate you to keep walking and give you some social interaction.
Weather: It is no fun to be outside in the cold, rain, or heat. Typically, there are shopping malls or other indoor walking areas a short drive from home. If that’s not an option, a cheap treadmill on a low setting works even better.
Lethargy: Lack of motivation strikes all of us at one time or another. To keep walking interesting, vary your route, time of day, or accompanying music. Nevertheless, sometimes discipline is the only thing you have to keep you going.
Whether the impediments you face are physical or mental, the tools to overcome them are within your grasp.
About the author: Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is help others “rebel against age”.