Walking has become one of the most popular forms of physical activity in the country. It requires little equipment or training — all you need to get started is a good pair of shoes. Moreover, you can do it practically anywhere throughout the year. Walking is convenient and relatively risk-free.
Although walking may be less daunting than other forms of exercise, it's still important to progress gradually. Start with a 15-minute walk at a steady rate; you should be able to carry on a conversation. As you become comfortable at this rate, increase the duration, speed or frequency of your walks. Don't increase any of these by more than 10% per week.
- When possible, use the sidewalk.
- Walk against traffic.
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Stretch before and after each walk.
- Vary the terrain (include both flat and hilly surfaces).
- Don't wear headphones.
- Be aware of your surroundings (people, animals, automobiles, etc.).
A common form of injury associated with walking is shin splints, which are marked by pain along the inner margin of the shin bone (tibia). To help prevent these, as well as other injuries, use proper footwear, include a gradual warm-up, and stretch before and after you exercise. Listen to your body.