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Walking your way to a better lifestyle

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

By Katie L. Reim                                                                   
STILLWATER, Okla. – With the skies clearing and summer rolling in, now is a great time to start a walking routine to benefit your health.

“Walking is a good exercise for everyone, it doesn’t require a lot of equipment or a special place,” said Youmasu Siewe, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service health education specialist. “When it comes to walking it burns calories and has many other health benefits.”

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, a regular walking program can result in a lower resting heart rate, reduced blood pressure, burns excess calories, reduces stress and increases muscle tone.

Obesity and high blood pressure lead to all sorts of additional health problems, but maintaining a walking program can help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or developing diabetes.

“Walking is easy on your joints and compared with running and enables you to burn as many calories,” Siewe said. “It is important to remember to warm up and slow down both before and after walking.”

The NIDDK recommends walking for 20 minutes or more three or more times a week.

“This should be a goal, not something you start out doing right away,” Siewe said.

A good pair of shoes with strong heal support is essential when starting your walking program.

Siewe also suggests:
Dressing appropriately for the time of the year. Layers in the winter so you can shed when you get too warm.
Walk in the daylight or well lit areas at night.
Wear reflective clothes if you walk at night.
Walk with a partner.
Do not wear headphones. These could prevent you from hearing an approaching car or bike.

Siewe said for those with other health problems, it is important to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

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