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Walking and Your Feet…the Benefits

It’s something that some of us do some of the time but most of us do none of the time! Let’s break it down, our schedules are busy…leaving home early to evade the traffic, working long hours, seeing about the kids, washing, taking care of the house. The work is never done! So exercise…walking…jogging…running, almost impossible, we are too tired. In some cases lazy, or we are slim, so that’s not necessary. All these theories are wrong and we know it. Get a walking partner…significant other, family member or friend and motivate each other.
Walking is one of the most effective forms of exercise. Many benefits can be derived from it. It aids in managing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and of course keeping the weight under control. A balanced practical diet along with walking is the ideal solution to losing and keeping off weight.
It improves your fitness levels, reduces the blood pressure levels and strengthens the muscles in the legs and gets the heart pumping. It also promotes proper blood flow which is key in ensuring that poor circulation is non-existent.
Walking provides that feeling of the body being rejuvenated and can alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. It relieves stress by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural tranquiliser.
Persons with issues like high cholesterol, diabetes, respiration, excessive weight, blood pressure, irregular heart/pulse rates, or injuries, should check with their regular doctor to get the all clear to walk for exercise.

Foot Maintenance
Basic foot care is necessary if the feet are going to be subjected to extra activity. Frequent grooming is critical to mimimise problems. The usual drying between the toes, moisturising of the feet, cutting of the toenails…straight across and wearing proper socks are important. Self surgery and some harsh over the counter products are not recommended. Seek professional assistance to avoid damage to your feet.

On Your Feet
Wearing proper sneakers for walking is important. They need to be cushioned with good shock absorption. These criteria should be met before launching your programme. What you should know too is that whether you purchase a walking or running sneaker, it provides stability.
Purchase all shoes late in the afternoon period when the feet are a bit swollen to facilitate the right fit. If it isn’t comfortable in the store, it isn’t worth buying. Because of the mechanics of specialised sneakers, they tend to be more expensive than a regular pair. Don’t compromise your feet and its comfort, proper footwear will help prevent some injuries that are likely to occur. Be sure to walk around the store in the desired sneakers using a pair of socks with the thickness you plan to use, for an overall fit that is satisfactory.
Know the shape and true size of your feet, and purchase sneakers only in that range, not smaller or larger sizes. Also, pay attention to whether your feet are narrow or wide width; and if you have any foot deformities, the width of the sneakers should be appropriate to facilitate it/them.
Do the necessary feet test while trying the sneakers. Flex your feet to determine whether the sneaker has sufficient flexon; you should be able to comfortably wiggle your toes and the heel should fit snug in the shoe.
In the case of persons with arch supports (orthotics), the shoe’s insole should be removable, since it is advised that the supports should substitute the shoe’s insoles to have the desired effect and fit.

Preparing for the Road
Warming up is a critical part of getting going. Exercises to loosen the muscles are necessary so that cramping, pulling up and stiffening occur in a lesser frequency. Make sure you have a proper stretch regime or injuries would be frequent and could in some cases be detrimental to your health and well being.
Goal setting is essential; so be realistic in the time frames you set. Short intervals a few times a week can then increase to longer intervals for more days. Soon enough your weekly routine would change to include this new regime. Start walking slowly, and gradually increase your speed to a point where you start to build up a sweat. These walks would start working into your system, and you’ll begin to feel the difference in your body and mind.
For serious benefits to be derived from walking, you should be clocking no less than 3 times and not more than 5 times a week, with no less than 30 minutes. While walking is essential, attempting to walk every day is not a good practice; as it deprives the body of rest and the ability to repair and rejuvenate itself in order to avoid further injuries.
Finally, I wish to extend best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Carnival to all. Remember, exercise moderation in whatever you do! I would not be having a column on Carnival Monday, but you can look out for Post-Carnival foot health tips in my next column.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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