Houston Forward Times

06 March 2014 Written by  Nick Faust

Walking Can Be a Great Family Workout

Walking is one of the best ways to get an aerobic workout. It’s safe, healthy, fun, inexpensive, easy to start and a great form of aerobic exercise for the family. It’s also a great way to help your community. Walking, like other aerobic exercises, should produce a training effect. “Training effect” is the body’s ability to recover from physical stress such as exercise or work.


Unlike many other aerobic exercises walking is relatively free from the many hazards of aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, jumping rope or high impact aerobic can cause joint pain, stress fractures, muscle pulls and other problems. When you use a high impact exercise to get in your aerobics, you put 3 to 4 times your body weight on every joint in the body.


That’s not to say you shouldn’t use high impact exercises such as jogging, but you should be aware of the problems that can be associated with them. When you walk, the impact of each step is only 1 1/2 times your body weight. Studies have shown that you can get the same benefits by walking sixty minutes, four times a week as you can by running thirty minutes three times a week.


Remember, walking is relatively free from injuries you can still overdo it. If you begin to feel pain, stop walking for a couple of days, then slowly work your way back into your program. Start walking at your own level, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Then gradually build on the time, pace and distance.


There are a few other safety features you want take into consideration when walking outside. Walk with a friend. Avoid isolated and poorly lit areas. Always let someone know what route you’re taking and when you expect to return. Carry phone, change and identification. Do not wear headphones, they make you less aware of traffic sounds, dogs, approaching strangers and can cause problems with your equilibrium. If you can, use a route that others use when working out so you’ll be less likely to be a victim of foul play.


When walking or running you should always face on coming traffic. Facing the traffic will give the chance to see what’s coming and give you more time to react. So that you’ll be seen, wear bright clothing during the day that doesn’t match your surroundings. Day glow orange is an excellent choice. At night you want to wear white or reflective clothing. You can even carry a flashlight. Two other good tips are to always use a running or walking route that is traveled by others and let someone know you’re going out and when you’re expected back.


There will be some days when the weather will be too cold or too hot to walk. Use your better judgment and forego your outdoor workouts for an indoor track. Indoor tracks are good but they can cause problems with your ankle and knee joint. When you walk or run on an indoor track, your ankles have to adapt to the change in the surface and the sharp curves. This can put a strain on your joints and muscle in your legs. When choosing an indoor track, chose one that has a wooden base. It should also have banked turns. You should make wide turns and reverse your walking direction every 10 minutes. These tips will help take the strain off your ankle and knee joint.


With more people exercising outside, the incidence of skin cancer has increased in the past few years due to exposure to the sun year round. Another factor that may affect your exposure to the sun is your time zone. Experts tell us that to protect our skin, we should stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the ultraviolet rays are most intense. But this warning should be adjusted for location.


During daylight saving time or in the western part of a time zone, you can still get sunburn late in the afternoon. That’s because sunlight peaks later and doesn’t taper out until evening. Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., you could be exposed to as much as 85 percent of the sun’s maximum dose of UVB rays.


And this can happen during the winter months also. Most people of African, South American and Mediterranean ancestry believe they have more protection from the sun’s harmful rays because of their darker skin color. The darker skin color may offer some protection, but caution should be shown when it comes to exposure to the sun. The face is the most common area for skin cancer to develop. The chest is second, the hands are third and your legs are fourth in areas to develop cancer. This means that all the areas of your skin exposed to the sun should be protected from the sun. So wear a sunscreen of no less than 35 SPF year round.


Everybody needs sunglasses, and not just in the summertime. If you’re going to walk or exercise outside you should wear sunglasses. You’re exposed to ultraviolet light all year and over the years this can damage the lenses of your eyes. Any sunglasses are better than no sunglasses. Here’s what you should look for in a pair of sunglasses.


The tint is not what blocks ultraviolet light. It’s the special chemicals added when the lenses are made. Brown or amber tinted lenses block the sun’s rays best but they sometimes distort your vision. Gray and green lenses don’t block as much ultraviolet light, but they don’t distort your vision.


Your sunglasses should be dark enough so you don’t see your eyes when looking in a mirror. Plastic lenses are light but glass doesn’t scratch as easy. Mirrored lenses offer extra protection against glare, but scratches are a problem. Wraparound frames are good because they block light above and below the eyes, but they shouldn’t block your side vision. They’re best for prolonged use.


Large frames will protect the delicate skin around your eyes. You should make sure the frame doesn’t block your vision. Oval and circular type sunglasses offer more protection because they’re larger and work best with indirect exposure. Shape, lenses and color are all important, but they’re only as good as the fit. So if they’re sliding down your nose, have them adjusted. Make sure the sunglasses you use provide UVA and UVB protection. Everyone’s sunglass needs are different, but everyone needs sunglasses. If you have special problems with your eyes, you should see a professional.


Drinking water is important all year around but you need to be especially meticulous about drinking water when the weather is hot. Two thirds of your body is composed of water. This makes it the body’s most vital nutrient. To maintain balance, the average person needs about 2,500 ml. (about 10 cups) per day. Of this amount, probably 60 percent will be obtained from drinking water or beverages, 30 percent from moist foods and the remaining 10 percent will be a byproduct of the metabolism of various nutrients.


Drinking water during your workout helps to increase your blood volume, which will increase cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood being pumped during each heartbeat. The more blood your heart pumps with each heartbeat the more nutrients are transported throughout the body. These nutrients provide energy for work. Many people run out of steam during an exercise session because they don’t replace water lost through exercise.


Studies show that drinking water before, during and after a workout increase energy production. This is true during hot and cold weather. Don’t wait until you become thirsty, by then it’s too late and your body will start to fatigue. As the humidity rises, adjust your workout even if you’re in good shape. If you’re overweight, slow down your workout pace. Your extra body fat and the heat will make your bodywork overtime.


Remember, walking is one of the best ways to get in an aerobic workout. It’s safe, healthy, fun, inexpensive, easy to start and a great form of aerobic exercise for the family. And you can help your community. So start that walking program today.


Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.


For help with drug, alcohol and mental health problems call Sobriety Through Outpatient the area most unique drug, alcohol and mental health treatment center (215) 227-STOP, (7867) or (800) 660-STOP (7867). Watch or listen to our recovery media stations everyday at www.stoprecoveryradio.com and lifeandspiritonline.com.


If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed write to “Tips to be Fit” P.O. Box 53443 Philadelphia, PA 19105, email   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call (215) 387-3081.


MAA WereReady