TREADMILL WALKING is a great alternative
when the weather is poor or it’s after dark.
Keep the treadmill experience positive by following these guidelines.
• Familiarize yourself with the treadmill
before you start. Locate the start and emergency stop button; also, learn about the
incline and speed options, and any other
program features that will allow you to get
the most out of the treadmill.
• Start with the treadmill turned off.
Position your feet on the frame (on either
side of the belt), turn the machine on to
a low speed and then get on.
• Don’t hold the handrails. Doing so
negatively impacts stride, posture and
proper arm motion. Instead, bend your
arms at roughly 90 degrees, keep them
reasonably close to your body and, if
they come forward as you walk, keep
the forward motion fairly short.
• Stand straight; don’t hunch or lean
forward. If you must read or watch TV,
ensure that your shoulders are relaxed
and naturally positioned, and you are
looking straight ahead.
• Don’t over-stride. Your front heel
should hit the treadmill close to your
body while your back foot gives you a
• Set a reasonable walking pace. Don’t
be afraid to increase your incline or walking
speed, but if you find your form suffering
(you’re leaning forward or hunching or over-striding), drop the speed back down.—LL
walking can be lifesaving,” says AHA spokes-
person Dr. Rani Whit;eld, a board-certi;ed
physician and sports medicine specialist in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He encourages his
patients to make walking a part of their daily
routine. “It’s fun, safe, inexpensive and easy.”
Walking has minimal impact on joints,
it’s free and it can be solitary or social, depend-
ing on what you prefer. For the most part, it
requires no special equipment, though it’s
important to consider a few things, including
the proper shoes.
Shop for shoes at the end of the day,
when your feet are larger. Avoid hiking shoes,
unless you’re walking in rugged terrain, and
don’t buy shoes designed speci;cally for running or jogging.
Look instead for shoes designed specifically for walking, or for cross-trainers, which
are multipurpose. “Avoid shoes with a high,
thick heel as this impedes the heel plant and
The path to fitness
begins with a single step
stresses the lower legs,” Heller says. “Shoes
should have a wide enough toe box for the
foot to expand and deep enough so that toes
are not hitting the upper part of the shoe.”
Opt for good arch support and a flexible
sole. If the shoes don’t feel good in the store,
don’t buy them. Walking shoes shouldn’t
need to be broken in.
Wear comfortable, easy-fitting, weather-
appropriate clothes. In winter, layer with
clothing that repels moisture. “Waterproof
clothing is not a good idea either,” Heller
says, “We don’t stay dry in waterproof
clothing because our bodies sweat, and
trapped moisture can lead to chafing.”
Don’t forget a hat (one-third of body heat
is lost through the head), and mittens or
gloves if your hands get cold. Walking or trek-
king poles are a great add-on, particularly in
In summer, choose lightweight fabrics
that provide sun protection, as well as a hat
and sunglasses. Remember to drink water
before and after you walk, and use sunscreen,
Even with the right shoes and clothing,
motivating yourself can sometimes be a challenge. “Walk early before the family rises or
after the kids go to bed,” Whitfield suggests. Or
make an appointment to walk with a friend.
People who have a regular walking buddy,
even a canine buddy are more likely to stick
with the routine. “Ginger, my cattle dog, needs
her exercise, and she can’t get that without me,”
Keep things fresh by changing your walking route. And having a backup plan in place
when inclement weather hits, such as walking in the mall, at the gym or on a treadmill (see “Treadmill tips”), helps
maintain the routine too.
Finally, ease into it. Walking too
far or too fast when you aren’t
used to a routine may result
in strained muscles or a
more serious injury,
and that can be discouraging. Start slow
and easy. Once you do,
you may not want to stop.
“Once people reap the benefits
of feeling good and functioning more
fully it becomes a habit,” Heller says. “I’m in
better shape today, as I approach my 68th
birthday, than I was decades ago, and regular
walking has played a big part in that.” C
Laura Langston has set up a treadmill desk so
she can walk while she writes.
By Laura Langston
WALKING IS THE most basic form of human
mobility. Maybe that’s why we sometimes
overlook it when we think about boosting our
activity levels. But according to the experts,
that’s a mistake.
“Walking can be a total-body workout,”
says Costco member Judy Heller, a certi;ed
personal trainer, and owner of Wonders of
Walking, a walking-;tness facility in Portland,
Oregon. “Even three 10-minute walking breaks
a day can make a di;erence.”
According to the American Heart Associ-
ation (AHA), a regular walking routine (at least
30 minutes of brisk walking four to seven days
a week) reduces the risk of heart disease, diabe-
tes and stroke; increases bone density; helps
control weight; and helps maintain balance and
coordination. It has also been associated with
improved mental health, increased energy, bet-
ter sleep and lower stress levels.
“;e bene;ts that you reap from regular
r you walk, and use sunscreen,
d she can’t get that without me,”
ne may result