Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise and great for supplementing your weight loss goals. It can boost your heart-health and even improve lower back pain. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, a daily walk can help lighten up your mood and calm your mind.
How Far Should You walk Without Training?
If you’ve ever walked a long distance when exploring a new city or a park, you may have noticed you can walk surprisingly far any specialized training for it. This is perfectly safe, presuming you’re healthy and well-hydrated.
However, if you’re living with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or having recently experienced symptoms such as dizziness or balance issues, make sure to check with your doctor before going for a long walk. That way, you can determine what distance or intensity is a safe range for you personally.
If you haven’t done any physical activity for a while, you can expect your legs and feet to feel pretty sore after walking for a period of time. You may experience some DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) for a couple of days. However, as your muscles become more accustomised to long walks over a week or two, these should become less of an issue.
To minimise injuries, it’s better to avoid overdoing it and stay consistent rather than starting with a super-long session and then crashing.
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Ways to Progress
1. Get The Right Walking Gear
Opt for wearing socks and well-fitted walking shoes with appropriate amount of support for your feet to avoid shin splints and blister. Make sure to stay hydrated, take a bottle of water, its better not have it and not need it rather than the other way round.
2. Start on Flat Level
Begin walking longer distances on flat, level surfaces like a track or pavement. Making your muscles work harder with hills or an incline too soon increases your risk of injury, so its best to incorporate that later.
3. Think Minutes, Not Miles
With walking and even with weight training, your body doesn’t know distance or repetitions it just knows ‘time under tension’. Aim to walk for a set period of time first. To start with consider how long it takes to walk to the supermarket first and build from there. For example, if it takes you 10 minutes then start with walks for 15 minutes or slightly longer.
4. Avoid Over Doing It
Overuse injuries come from doing too much too soon. To start with, limit yourself to 3-5 walks per week with recovery days in between. To increase your walking time safely, add just 5 minutes of time extra each week. This allows your muscles to slowly adapt to more stress, becoming stronger rather than breaking down and straining them.
5. Make it Fun
We tend to stick to types of exercise if we like doing it, and if you’re enjoying yourself, you might end up walking longer with ease. Consider scheduling your walks with nicer scenery or with a partner or family, or even dialing up your walks with short brisk walks every 5 minutes or so.
Exactly how far is too long for a walk depends on your personal medical history and fitness background. A good way to start is begin with a distance you already know you can walk – and gradually increase your walking distance. And remember either way, a regular exercise routine is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle.