A 30 minute daily walk is excellent for your physical and mental health. It improves cardiovascular fitness, helps reduce body fat, strengthens muscles and bones, improves balance and reduces stress and anxiety. Walking is great for everybody but it is particularly beneficial for seniors, people who are trying to lose weight and anyone who hasn’t participated in an exercise program for some time.
During the spring, summer and fall it is relatively easy to get out for an invigorating daily walk. However, during the winter, when the snow, ice and freezing temperatures set in it is tempting to stay indoors. Snowstorms and cold weather alerts aside, it is important to continuing your walking regularly throughout the winter or you will lose all of the fitness you have gained during the warmer months.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy a daily walk all winter long:
• Purchase a pair of warm, supportive, properly fitted, light weight winter boots that provide good traction on snow and ice. Avoid boots that have smooth, plastic or leather soles. Shoes that have a thicker treadline, will provide you with more traction in the snow and on ice. Think of your shoes like tires on a car! You can also beef up your shoes by purchasing removable rubber spider web like grips that slip on over the bottom of your shoes, providing you with more traction to tackle that snow and ice. Giving you the ability to maintain your daily walking.
• If you are fearful of falling always use a cane, walking poles or simple ski poles that are properly fitted for your height. Be sure to use an attachable spike tip on icy days.
• Wear a warm, winter coat that is brightly coloured or has reflective patches so that approaching traffic can see you easily.
• Although a hat and scarf are essential make sure they don’t block your vision as you need to be able to see and hear everything that is happening around you.
• Stick to well-established paths and walkways and keep an eye out for any dark, areas as they may be sheet ice.
During the winter you may want to try other walking like activities, like snow shoeing and cross country skiing as mixing up your activities will keep you motivated! Walk with a buddy not only for safety but for motivation. If you have a friend who wants to walk they can keep you motivated on the days you aren’t.
Whether you are walking in the winter or during the spring, summer or fall, your footwear is your most important piece of equipment as it keeps your feet dry and comfortable and provides you with extra stability. It doesn’t matter if you are buying winter boots or summer walking shoes the footwear must be the right size for your feet – and the best indicator is that the footwear feels comfortable the moment you try it on. It is equally important to replace your walking footwear every 500 km as the support and comfort it provides will wear down over time. If you experience foot or lower limb pain during or following your daily walk when you are wearing properly fitted shoes or boots, don’t delay, book a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your community. Your Pedorthist will determine the cause of your pain and recommend treatment options to quickly get you back on the walking paths and trails.
By Mike Neugebauer C. Ped Tech (C), C Ped (C) Port Coquitlam BC