I always look forward to this time of year — when the air has a little more crispness, the daylight is a little shorter and the leaves are just beginning to change color. I think this is why October is the National Walking Month, celebrated with a national walking campaign called Walktober. The campaign focuses on trying to get people to make a habit of walking, which can give a boost of energy and improve your health. A good, brisk walk can:
- Help maintain weight.
- Improve the immune system.
- Help prevent or manage various health conditions, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce risk of eye ailments, such as cataracts, wet age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
- Strengthen bones and muscles.
- Improve mood.
- Improve lung capacity and function.
- Improve balance and coordination.
- Improve brain health.
You can set a goal of 30 minutes a day or 10,000 steps a day, but begin slow and build up to it. You can also break it up into five- to 10-minute increments to start. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t reach your goals right away. Find a buddy or group to walk with at work, a great way to catch up with friends or to have a walking meeting with co-workers. If you are a beginner, you might want to let your doctor know.
If you want to get started, here are some tips to consider:
- Find a safe place to walk, even a shopping mall is good.
- Get a good pair of shoes. Many people give up on walking because their feet get sore from shoes that are not supportive.
- Dress for comfort and safety. Light or bright colors are good. Dress in layers in case you get hot.
- Start off and end slowly. In other words, warm up and cool down.
- Use a good walking technique. You can find plenty of knowledgeable suggestions online, but the common idea is good posture.
Getting out the door or up from your desk to go walking may be a challenge. To charge your efforts, involve your family or co-workers and keep track of your steps. Most smart phones have a tracking device or there are many free apps for this. Remember, it just takes that first minute of walking to begin.