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Articles by our Physical Therapists

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32. Find Your "Sole"- Mate this Spring

                                                      Find Your “Sole”-Mate this Spring

As the weather improves we all feel the urge to be outside more – for varying reasons including gardening, exercise, or just to enjoy the change in season.  We begin to see walkers everywhere!  Here are some health benefits and reasons you should join the crowd:Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  Research shows that women walkers reduced the risk of a heart attack by 35% compared to women who did not walk.  Retired men who walked more than 2 miles per day decreased their mortality rate by HALF compared their counterparts who walked less than 1 mile per day!   Cholesterol and blood pressure numbers also improve with a consistent walking program. Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, improve bone density, ease depression symptoms, and improve brain function.  All of these have been shown to occur when walking 1.5-2.0+ hours per week.  That’s only 30 mins, 3-4 days/week!                

Reduce/Manage/Prevent type 2 diabetes.  The diabetes Prevention Program showed that walking 150 mins per week and losing 7% of your body weight (12-15 lbs) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58%!              

Hippocrates stated:  “Walking is man’s best medicine.”  You don’t have to walk 30 mins at a time to get the benefits; research now shows multiple, short walks during the day have the same results.  Some tips to a successful walking program include:   

                                                                                                                                                       Are you ready?  Always check with your doctor before starting a walking program.Gear-up!  Invest in good shoes – this will be the only expense and/or equipment needed so choose wisely.  Wear comfortable clothes with layers appropriate for our changing weather.    

Find a “Sole”-Mate.  Finding a walking partner not only increases the motivation and fun levels, but gives you someone to hold you accountable and keep you walking! Warm-Up First – begin walking slowly for 5 mins then gradually increase your pace.  Stretch!  This is possibly the most important and least performed part of any exercise program.  Stretching properly will prevent injuries as well as improve balance and flexibility.  Stretching can be done after your 5 min warm-up/before your walk, and/or during your Cool down period.  Walk with Style!  Keep your head up and back straight this minimizes the stress on your spine.  Also swing your arms keeping your hands and shoulders relaxed.  Walk with a long, easy stride that doesn’t strain you and place your foot on the ground in a heel-toe pattern.         

Come out and join the crowd – we’ll be waiting for you!

Written by Jodi Flanagan, MPT

Published April 2013

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