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Walking for Weight Loss: Physical medicine specialist offers tips

July 08, 2015
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When it comes to choosing a fitness regimen, many depend on running to cut those unwanted calories.  However, for those who may have challenges adopting a running regimen, there is another way!

Studies have shown that brisk walking is just as beneficial as running for cardiovascular fitness and weight loss. 

“Walking is simple. There’s no gym membership or fancy equipment required,” said Dr. Julio Martinez-Silvestrini, physical medicine specialist at Baystate Medical Center.

However, if done incorrectly walking can cause injury. Dr. Martinez- Silvestrini offers some tips on how to safety and effectively walk your way to a fitter, healthier you.

Practice proper technique

Walking, we do it all the time, but are we doing it right? Believe it or not, there is a correct way to walk. The best technique to avoid injury is to start with the heel and roll to the toe, then repeat on the other foot. This technique helps absorb the impact of your steps and helps you avoid back injuries.

Drink one to two 8 ounce glasses of water before you start your walk. If your stroll is less than an hour it’s recommended that you consume an 8 ounce glass of water every 15 minutes.

If you plan on being out longer than an hour you may want to consider a sports drink. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and glucose that will give your body what it needs for the long haul.

Start small

If you have never walked before or are new to exercise, it’s recommended that you start off slowly and build up the time and intensity. Start off by walking about 2 – 5 minutes a day. While that may not seem like much, if you haven’t worked out in a while, it’s a good place to start to be sure you don’t get hurt. 

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After that add 1 to 2 minutes every week so you gradually pick up the intensity.

Keep track of your progress to stay motivated. It’s recommended to record your progress with minutes walked per day or week, instead steps or mileage. Not only is it easier but can be more motivating.  

Wear proper footwear

Be sure to use adequate footwear. Walking 3-4 miles in high heels or shoes with a steep sole will not only cause pain and discomfort, but it can also cause injury. 

Make sure your shoes fit properly. Shoes that are too tight can cause pain and give you blisters. It’s a good idea to wear shoes that are already a little broken in and not stiff. However, be sure that they aren’t worn out. Shoes with worn down soles and holes in them lack the structure your foot needs when walking and can cause you pain and discomfort. Generally speaking you want to change your shoes every 300 miles. That translates into about every 3-6 months depending on how often you use them.

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Don’t walking thru the pain

Before you hit the pavement, be sure to check with your primary care physician about any prior injuries or chronic pain. It’s important to have your doctor help you manage your pain before you start walking or participating in any fitness program. 

Walking through the pain can not only make your existing injury worst, but pain and injuries can cause you to be off balance and can lead to hurting your back.