By Zeinab Ndow, Registered Kinesiologist, BKin
Walking – it may seem like an everyday, mundane task that is a part of many people’s routines. But the way our body benefits from walking, we should appreciate the simplicity of this movement!
Walking is an excellent form of exercise. It is a full-body exercise, targeting multiple muscle groups. It is also a great way to place load on the joints, which can help to build and maintain strength, especially as we age. Walking also poses less risk of potential injuries that – for example – running may cause if the biomechanics are not up to par.
If you are someone who is new to exercise, or looking to improve your cardiovascular health, consider this form of exercise. Start with distances that feel comfortable, and choose an area that you enjoy – luckily the lower mainland has lots of beautiful trails and scenery to provide the perfect setting for a nice stroll!
In addition to the physical health benefits, walking has also shown positive effects on psychological well-being. Walking, especially in a nature setting, has evidently shown to decrease “tension-anxiety”, “depression-dejection” “anger-hostility” (Song et al., 2018). It is a great way to de-stress, clear your mind and take advantage of the fresh air!
- Make sure when partaking in this form of exercise that you are wearing adequatefootwear that will provide support for your feet, as this will be very important to reducerisk of injury or discomfort after.
- Stretching before and after walking is important! Consider dynamic stretches such as legswings, lunges, and arm swings to warm up the joints before exercise, and don’t forget static stretching after walking (i.e quad stretch, hip flexor stretch, hamstring stretch) to cool down the muscles
- Keep hydrated! Since our heart rate will be increasing during exercise, that also means we will be sweating and breathing heavier. Make sure to drink adequate water before and after exercise.Citation:Song C, Ikei H, Park BJ, Lee J, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y. Psychological Benefits of Walking through Forest Areas. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Dec 10;15(12):2804. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15122804. Erratum in: Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 18;17(4): PMID: 30544682; PMCID: PMC6313311.