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5 Walking Mistakes to Avoid

Walking for exercise has many health benefits. When considering or increasing walking for exercise there are a few mistakes that should be avoided. Mistake 1. Starting to long. With any change in activity, our bodies need to adapt to the stress. If you have never walked for exercise before, trying to walk for 5 miles at a fast pace can lead to overuse injury at worst and frustration at best. Start with shorter walks at first at a gentle pace. Increase distance and pace gradually to allow the tissues of the feet and leg muscles to adapt to the stimulus. This approach will allow you to build up to walking for as long as you want while minimizing the chance of injury. Mistake 2. Walking too slowly. Taking into account the last mistake, while walking at a leisurely pace is better than being sedentary, walking at a brisk pace has been shown to be the best for improving fitness and losing weight. A good way to build up your walking pace is to to use interval training. Interval training involves alternating higher and lower intensity periods of exercise. A good stating interval program could be alternating 30 seconds of brisk walking with 1 minute of a slower pace. Repeat for 10 rounds. Mistake 3. Poor walking form. Poor walking technique slows your pace, causing you to tire more quickly, and potentially results in injury. Since this can affect how far and long you are able to walk (or keep you from walking altogether), improving walking form is essential to comfortable walking. Pay attention to the following on your next walk. Posture: make sure you stand tall with shoulders back and head up. Try not to lean forward or slouch. A forward lean is only appropriate for walking up a steep incline. Stride length: try not to over stride. Longer step length can cause a slower pace and lead to more stress in the joints, particularly the knees. Shorter steps allow a higher cadence and faster walking speeds. Arm swing: Swinging the arms helps get more power and allows you to walk faster. Mistake 4. Using the wrong foot wear. Going for a long walk in the wrong shoes is a recipe for injury. Exercise walking is best done in a shoe designed for walking or running. These should have a firm counter, thick cushioned heels and a flexible forefoot. Brand such as New Balance, ASICS and Propet are examples that have extensive lines of walking and running shoes. Mistake 5. Not being NEAT. Many studies show the correlation between sedentary behavior and poor health outcomes. Non exercise activity thermogenics, or NEAT. Refers to energy expended for all body functions and activities other than actual exercise. The benefits of exercise can be erased if we are completely sedentary the rest of the time. Moving about more throughout the day can go a long way in improving health and wellness. Set an alarm to remind you to get up and move at least every 30 minutes. Step counters and fitness watches can help keep track of your overall activity. 7000 steps per day is a good starting point with a goal of 10000 per day. If foot pain is keeping you from starting or increasing your walking program, walk on over to my office for and evaluation. We will get you back on the road fast

Author
Paul Betschart, DPM Dr. Betschart has over 26 years of experience in treating patients of all ages with all kinds of foot and ankle conditions. His mission is to provide you with helpful information about foot and ankle issues and the latest developments in healthcare.

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