5 Tips for Safe and Smart Walking
Walking is a form of exercise that appeals to a wide variety of lifestyles. It is a basic movement that can be transformed into a very effective workout, if the right amount of concentration is applied. Medical studies have proven that walking is good for your heart, brain, and bones, while contributing to the prevention of conditions such as cancer, depression, and diabetes.
#1 Stretching Exercises
Before walking for exercise, take the time to do some warm-up stretching in order to loosen your leg muscles. Basic toe touching, arm reaching, and leg extensions will help to prevent injuries. Stretching your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings are essential for any safe walk or physical activity involving the legs.
#2 Start Slowly
Do not try to walk long distances or at record breaking speeds when you first start your program. Instead, set smaller goals that are challenging, yet achievable. For example, if your goal is to walk for 30 minutes each day, but you are unable to finish, just walk for 10 minutes at a time. You can combine three 10 minute walks to equal your goal. Over time, work up to longer sessions. Repeat this process for your walking speeds as well and you will be surprised at how much progress you can make in a short period of time.
#3 Stay Visible
It is always a good idea to walk familiar routes to avoid getting lost and stay relatively close to help, if you need it. Make sure to wear bright or lightly colored clothing to remain visible. Cars that are driving need to be able to see you in all types of weather. If you are hidden, there is an increased chance that they will miss you and an accident can be caused. It is not recommended that you walk at night for safety reasons, but if it is necessary, carry a flashlight and wear reflectors. Another safety recommendation is to walk with a partner, no matter what time of day it is.
#4 Be Alert
Many times, drivers are distracted, and not actively looking for walkers. This places the responsibility on you, the walker, to constantly be alert and notice everything around you. Pay special attention to cars whenever you cross a street. Try to stand away from any parked busses, trucks, bushes, or cars, and never assume that a driver will stop. Walking through parking lots can be especially dangerous, so watch for reverse lights from the cars that might be pulling out in your direction. Use your ears as well as your eyes and listen for engine noises, car movement, and other people. Listening to music through headphones or earplugs can enhance your workout, but hinder your alertness. You can use them more freely in safer environments, including indoor health facilities or gymnasiums.
#5 Watch Your Step
The best place to walk is on the sidewalk, or a walking track found at a gym or park. Avoid walking on bumpy or rough terrain and areas with an inconsistent pattern. Although it is generally not recommended to walk in the street, if there is no sidewalk on the road, always walk facing traffic. Remember that walking is supposed to be safe and fun, so do everything you can to get the most benefits from your next walk.