Walking in the New Year

It’s a new year, is it time for a new you?

Well, perhaps not an entirely “new” you. No matter who you are, there’s a lot of good things about you that don’t need to be changed.

That said, there’s always room for improvement. One area just about any of us can improve upon is how much exercise we get on a regular basis. With the calendar turning over and a fresh year ahead of us, this is a great time to decide to do more – whether or not you want to label it as a “resolution.”

Of course, the time of year doesn’t really matter. The truth of the matter is that it is always the right time to commit to healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising more often.

Now, when you make this decision, it is important to handle it in the appropriate way. Obviously, you can’t just hop off the couch and go run a marathon, but if you take time and build up your strength and endurance you could do it in about 4-6 months.

Running a marathon is a nice goal for some people, but there are many of us who would be content and benefit from just being more active on a regular basis. If this is something you are interested in doing, you might want to consider engaging in one of the more underrated exercises – walking.

Certain activities come to mind more frequently when people think about exercising, like running and lifting weights. Walking, however, is an outstanding form of exercise.

Depending on your level of fitness and conditioning, you might not break a sweat when you go for a walk, but what you will do is raise your heartrate, burn calories, and strengthen the muscles in your legs, core, and even shoulders (from swinging your arms). And those are just physical benefits! Additionally, you will relieve stress, think more clearly, and sleep better at night.

With walking, you achieve all of those benefits – but without placing excessive stress on your feet and ankles.

If you haven’t been particularly active for a while—or perhaps your weight has managed to creep up more than like to think about—it’s important to ease into this activity. Sure, you might think “it’s only walking,” but you need to keep in mind that walking actually places more force on your lower limbs than you realize.

Your feet and ankles are generally able to handle the physical forces quite well, but you do place as much as two times your bodyweight on the landing foot with each step. Those two additional pounds in force for every one pound of bodyweight can start to add up if you’re out of the recommended weight range for your height and gender.

Whereas your ultimate goal should be at least a half hour of walking 3-4 times per week, you may need to start at a lower level and then gradually build up over time. For example, start by just walking for five minutes—keep a timer with you and turn around at two and a half minutes—the first day. Do that again for the next two or three times during the week. Then bump that up to six minutes the next week, followed by seven the next, eight and a half the week after, and then ten minutes the week after that.

At that point, you can likely start jumping up by higher intervals and then you’ll be at 30 minutes before you know it!

Don’t forget – if it’s been some time since you last exercised on a regular basis, be sure to schedule appointments with our office and your primary care physician. We can identify any potential health risks and provide professional medical advice to keep you safe and healthy.

For more information, call our Houston podiatrist office at (713) 493-7372.