Spring is officially here and what better way to celebrate than to take a walk outside? Mississippi is a great place to walk and be healthy, and this month there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this season’s warming trend.
Why walk? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercise is proven to help treat and prevent more than 40 chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. And walking is one of the most effective exercises and can be done by most everyone, including those with some health conditions.
It’s safe, easy and doesn’t require practice or special skills. As simple as it is, walking can do so much to improve your health, improve your fitness level and ease you into more advanced forms of exercise. Just a few of the health benefits include:
- Weight Management
- Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
While walking is a simple and effective way to get in shape or stay in shape, there are some things to keep in mind if you are beginning or continuing a walking program:
Choose the right gear
Comfortable shoes are your most important asset when you’re walking. Good arch support and thick flexible soles can keep you comfortable and less prone to injury. Be sure to try them on before you buy them to be sure they are comfortable without having to be “broken in.”
Prepare and avoid injury
Although walking requires no practice and little skill, you should still take time to prepare yourself to stay injury-free. Take about five minutes to warm up by walking slowly then gradually increase your pace. Following your walk, stretch your muscles, including your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, shoulders and sides.
Set goals and monitor your progress
Do you want to lose a significant amount of weight? Or do you just want to protect your health and stay in shape? Set your goals and track how long or how far you walk from week to week and note your progress. Have you lost weight, has your fitness level increased, do you feel better or are you sleeping better? These are just some of the improvements you should note. You can track your progress online at www.letsgowalkinms.com.
To learn more about upcoming running and walking events around the state, click here. Most of these events offer an opportunity to run or walk and you’ll have the opportunity to meet other people who have the same interests as you.
Happy Spring… go walkin’ Mississippi!