BENGALURU: Recent research suggest that 10,000 steps a day is the key to good health. According to American Heart Association adults should get at least 150 minutes or more of moderate-intense physical activity every week. This can be best achieved by walking 2 miles briskly for about 4 miles/hr.
Physical activity is a must to maintain good health. For people who have sedentary work life, walking is the simplest way to keep active. Moderate intensity exercises have enormous health benefits and can halve the risk of major diseases in people of all age groups.
Walking is a good aerobic exercise that improves blood circulation and allows body to use oxygen better.
If you feel 10,000 steps at one go is too much of exercise to begin with, adapt small changes, practice mini exercises throughout the day.Give up the elevator for stairs; park your car half a kilometre far from your destination, and while at work take short breaks and go out for 10 to 15 minutes of walk.
Warm up your body before a brisk walk and remember these benefits to keep yourself motivated:
Burns extra calories and blood sugar
Keeps joints and muscles agile
Improves good cholesterol or HDL levels
Lowers blood pressure
Improves insulin sensitivity
Here are better walking techniques that can be followed to reap maximum benefits and avoid injury:
Walk on flat surface: Make sure that you walk on a flat surface as brisk walking on an uneven terrain can be quite difficult and can cause injuries to spine and knee joints.
Use comfortable clothes and footwear: Keep in mind to wear comfortable and supportive footwear. Walking elevates body’s temperature, so ensure to wear loose clothes. It is best to wear shoes designed for walking or jogging to avoid formation of blisters.
Begin with small steps: Start with small steps in terms of both frequency and distance. For initial few days stick to a stroll of 5-10 minutes and then increase the time along with intensity of walking.
Maintain right posture: It is important to select a comfortable natural length step along with right body posture. One should remember to keep the head straight, tummy pulled in and relaxed shoulders.
Focus on breathing: While walking avoid talking to people or indulging in other distractions like using mobile phones. Keep your mind clear and focus on breathing. If you start gasping stop or slow down the speed and rest a while.
Note: People with osteoarthritis of knees should opt for exercises other than walking in order to prevent further wear and tear.
The author is a General Physician at Columbia Asia Hospital