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Walking Tips

According to recent studies, Americans have made walking the nation’s most popular form of exercise. Depending on the terrain and walking 3 mph, these walkers are burning 15 grams of carbohydrates per hour (100 lb. person), 21 grams per hour (150 lb. person), and 27 grams per hour (200 lb. person). They are also using about 50 percent of their body’s major muscles.

Exercise helps you function at your best, and if you have diabetes, it is an essential component in what’s called the three-pronged approach to controlling diabetes and blood glucose levels — proper diet, medication, and exercise. For many of us, walking is the easiest, cheapest, and safest way to get exercise. Walking is also one of the least boring or tedious of exercises as you can go wherever you like. Just avoid walking in extremely hot or in extremely cold weather.

Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. There’s no age limit for exercising — even people in their senior years can start a walking exercise program! It’s recommended that one walk for at least 30 minutes 4 or 5 times a week, but even if it’s only for 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a week, you’ll start to see a difference in your physical fitness (and most likely blood pressure and blood glucose levels).

It was only about 15 years ago that mall walking became the fitness program for millions across the country. With spring’s unpredictable weather, mall walking makes a lot of sense with it’s climate-controlled, security-guard patrolled environment. This time to go is early morning when the mall doors open early (many as early as 7 a.m.) for walkers. Many malls have walking clubs — check to see if your nearby mall has one or start your own with a few friends and/or neighbors. At this early hour the escalators are stopped, offering a stair workout as you walk from level to level.

When you walk, vary the pace between quick, short stride with strong arm swing, then stroll for a while, then back to pushing it for a short intervals, etc. Keep your posture tall and straight with your chin parallel to the ground and shoulders back and down. Let you arms swing naturally.

As you get further along with your walking program, you might want to start carrying small hand weights to give the upper part of your body additional workout. Remember to stretch your back and leg muscles before you start a walking session and allow for a cool-down period of strolling, followed by leg and back stretching.

For walking outdoors or in the mall, you’ll need proper footwear padded enough to absorb the impact with concrete (there’s concrete underneath the mall carpet) yet lightweight, waterproof or water-resistant leather or fabric-and-leather combination with a pliable rubber outsole and steel-shank-reinforced midsole and high traction. Be sure to wear proper socks.