Walk with a goal in mind

It's free; you can do it at any time and it doesn’t require being in top shape. In addition, walking improves blood pressure, tones the muscles, has many cardiovascular benefits and helps you get rid of some calories. What are you waiting for?

According to experts, walking at least five days a week is one of the best ways to be in good shape. It's a healthy exercise and it's easy to perform. It’s not expensive –a pair of good tennis shoes will do the trick – and it's free. If you don’t feel like going to the gym, here's what you can do to have great cardiovascular benefits.

Take it seriously
You need to be aware of the importance of practising some kind of daily exercise. Cardiologists tell us that a 30-minute walk every day substantially reduces the number of heart attacks.

So, it's not just about losing weight or burning calories; it's much more than that – when you walk, all the muscles in your legs and arms move, so you're guaranteed to be performing a complete exercise.

According to the Institute of Medical Investigations in Barcelona, if everybody would walk regularly, heart attacks will be reduced by 20%. This includes children, teenagers, young adults, adults and the elderly.

Before going for a walk...

  • Choose shoes that are comfortable and that perspire. Use shoes with flexible soles and make sure they're your size.
  • Always use socks to avoid blisters.
  • Use loose-fitting clothes that allow you to move comfortably and perspire.
  • It's recommended to do some warming exercises before and after walking.
  • If you don’t feel like walking by yourself, invite a friend or a neighbour to go with you.
  • Mark yourself a route according to your goals, taking into consideration the length of the walk, the intensity, and the difficulties of the ground.
  • Remember that as any exercise, walking also has a technique and a period of preparation.

Let’s go!

  • Your abdomen and back have to be straight; this will guarantee you proper breathing.
  • As you walk, look 2 or 3 metres in front of you with your head and chin straight.
  • Move your arms forward and backwards with your elbows close to your body.
  • You can alternate the pace of your walking: you may walk fast for 10 minutes, slow down for the next 10 minutes, and so forth.
  • Take your steps always in this order: heel, sole and toes. It will help you adopt a natural posture.
  • Gradually increase the distance you walk every day. If you walk two or three kilometres a day, increase it by 200 metres.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated.

Great benefits
People who exercise regularly and have a good physical resistance enjoy better health than those who rarely practise any sport:

  • Walking improves cardiovascular capacity; therefore, it lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
  • It tones the muscles and stimulates basal metabolism.
  • Walking 30 minutes burns about 150 to 300 calories (630 to 1260 kilojoules).
  • It lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
  • It lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
  • It strengthens the leg muscles.

- (Emilia Klapp, June 2008)

About the Author:
Emilia Klapp has a degree in Nutrition Science and is a registered dietician. With her new book, "Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet", she has helped many people just like you reduce the risk of heart disease and lose weight at the same time. For more information on the book and to receive a free especial report on the "Top 10 Mediterranean Curative Ingredients", go to www.mediterraneanheart.com.

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