Walking is practically the easiest exercise one could do, so why not walk your way to fitness?
I absolutely detest running — I hate the jarring sensation on my knees as my feet hit the pavement. The up-down jiggling of my boobs, cheeks and butt cheeks, as I hope for these three body parts to resist gravity for as long as possible. The burning sensation in my chest as I huff and puff. And how my face turns an unsightly red from the physical exertion.
Swimming laps? Boring beyond measure. Cycling’s too scary to contemplate given the number of bad drivers on our roads. HIIT boot camp workouts are a little too high impact (once again, my poor knees).
Group exercise classes can get unpleasantly crowded, and you sometimes encounter weirdos. Like that one girl who often stood behind me at Body Combat class, and who screamed and yelled at the top of her voice with every single punch and kick she threw, right into my ear. When I politely requested her to pipe down, she went ballistic, so I stopped going altogether.
I love golf, Zumba and yoga, but have had to give these all up due to a slipped disc. Which has left me pretty much with only one exercise option: walking.
According to Mayoclinic.org, we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, preferably getting in 30 minutes a day. Regular brisk walking can help one to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, lift your mood, improve your balance and coordination, and prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
“Walking as a form of exercise does offer many advantages. It’s really easy to get started on it even if you hate exercise and are uncoordinated, because you already know how to walk. It carries an extremely low injury potential as it’s low impact; it doesn’t require any equipment apart from the right shoes; you can do it anytime and anywhere, alone or as a social activity, and you can do it for decades,” says Dr Andrew Quoc Dutton, an orthopaedic surgeon from SMG Orthopaedic Group.
To start off your walking regime on the right foot, he recommends the following:
1. Buy a pair of suitable walking shoes
2. Stay on a flat surface
3. Start off at a slow speed for the first 1-2 minutes
4. Gradually increase the speed
5. 30-40 minutes is sufficient
6. At the end, do some stretching.
Unfortunately, he also notes that brisk walking cannot be the only form of exercise one engages in as it does not provide core strengthening, flexibility and upper limb strengthening.
“To up the intensity of your brisk walking regime, change your walking rhythm, add hand weights, walk sideways, and do knee lifts and push ups,” advises Dr Dutton. “At the same time, protect yourself from injuries by avoiding too much stair climbing, and always warm down with proper stretching.”
To keep your walks interesting and your motivation levels up:
• Walk in different areas and enjoy the surrounding beauty
• Walk to visit interesting sights
• Get friends to come along so you can catch up with one another
• Listen to music or podcasts
• Track your progress via a fitness app.
Now all you need is to get started, and to keep at it about five times a week.