It is great to see that there is more publicity promoting walking as a form of exercise amongst the elderly. Whether it’s the 10 minutes brisk walk a day or the CanTheCar programme, they are all working to encourage everyone to get outside and take some basic walking exercise.
But one question I am asked a lot is “How do I start”, “What do I do”?
The great thing about walking is that you don’t need any specialist equipment. Assuming that you will be starting by walking around your local town or village, you will just need to wear comfortable shoes, ideally a pair of trainers.
1. Start gradually
If this is the first time that you have done any exercise in a long while, just walk for 10 minutes, then turn around and walk back. Increase this by a minute or two every day or as you feel comfortable.
2. Aim to be slightly out of breath
In order to get the most from you exercise and to make sure you are walking at the right pace. You should be aiming to be slightly out of breath and slightly perspiring. You should not be getting so out of breath that you can’t talk but then you need to know that you are doing some exercise!
3. Gradually increase the workload
Eventually your walking will start to feel easier. At this stage increase the workload by taking longer steps and walking slightly faster. This is in addition to increasing the length of time and distance walked.
4. If possible walk on grass
Whilst initially it will be advantageous to walk on pavements. As your workload increases and your fitness improves you will find it more comfortable to walk on softer ground. walking on soft ground, such as grass, will reduce the impact on your knees and hips and so reduce risk of injury
5. Wear thin layers
One of the risks of exercising outdoors is not dressing appropriately. Always wear several thin layers rather than one thick layer. This allows you to take something off if you get too warm. Bearing in mind the British weather and the distance you will eventually be walking, it will be worth carrying a small backpack with a bottle of water, a snack, and a waterproof jacket.
The bottom line though is don’t be put off. Just get outside and do what you are capable of doing. Remember it should also be an enjoyable experience, so if you see something you want to look at, stop and enjoy the views. Getting outside and getting healthy is all about having fun.