Dr. Craig Williams, a sports science lecturer at the University of Exeter and a firm believer in the health benefits of walking refers to this form of exercise as “the perfect exercise.”
He says, “Besides being the fundamental mode of human transportation, walking is the most remarkable, simplest – simply putting one foot in front of the other, safest, easiest and very effective type of exercise.”
In an article in the Daily Mail, Robina Dam describes walking as “the most restorative and invigorative form of exercise.”
As if that is not enough, According to television presenter and Ramblers president Julia Bradbury, “Walkers have less incidence of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and other killer diseases.”
“They live longer, enjoy a better sex life, get mental health and spiritual benefits, save money on medication and experience enhanced overall fitness,” Julia continues.
All these observations are true. However, today, knee, foot, leg, hip or back complications have made almost impossible for us to walk upright. They have taken toll on our frames and negatively affected our workout programs. We are therefore, left with no alternative, but to use walking gears.
Walking gears are very useful if walking is part of your exercise routine. They not only help you relieve strain on your knees, but also enhance your workout experience.
They improve your posture, offer you greater stability and help you maintain a much better walking rhythm.
Discussed in this article, therefore, is a comprehensive guide featuring some of the ten best walking gears used by walking-lovers. Read on.
Walking sticks are long staffs made from wood and aluminum. They are said to be the oldest, simplest walking aids. Walking sticks come in various designs, styles and sizes. Most of them are custom-made so that they can fit your exact height.
Walking sticks brings with them numerous health and fitness benefits. The main benefit of walking sticks is that they help improve your health by aiding you when walking and giving you better balance.
This makes the journey much easier if you are coping with an age, injury or arthritis. They give you more confidence in yourself, lessen stress on your body, improve your mobility and help you maintain a more active, healthier lifestyle irrespective of your age.
If you are struggling with age, walking sticks will help you balance and move around much faster. They can help you climb steep, hilly paths and also give your body a steadier feeling when coming down a steep slope.
Walking sticks also help you reduce extra weight from your hips, back, legs, feet, knees and ankles, making you feel more energized and less strained or tired at the end of the exercise.
Introduced in the U.S. by Tom Rutlin, creator of the Exerstride Nordic Walking method, walking canes are still uncommonly used. However, when you include them in your walking routine, you can enjoy its unlimited benefits.
Our two legs are not enough to provide maximum stability while on the trail. The additional support offered by walking canes is therefore very vital as it means more stability and enhanced balance, especially when on loose terrain.
Walking canes are useful on sidewalks, streets, and paths. They also relieve stress on the joints and give you more workout time.
With walking canes come a more worked out upper body and strengthened core abdominal muscles. You’ll be able to burn more calories giving you a more efficient workout, especially if losing weight is one of your fitness goals.
Walking using walking shoes offers a wider range of muscles into play. It also brings with it much better toning to the lower body. Well-fitting walking shoes give your feet more protection and comfort. Most walking shoes in the market are made of rubber outsole with an abrasion-resistant stretch polyamide fabric on the upper part.
Remember that shoes are tools. Without proper tools, you are likely to hurt yourself. Wearing good walking shoes is therefore the most fundamental element in preventing injury and maintaining the correct walking technique.
You have to wear shoes that support your foot muscles otherwise; you may suffer from bladder complications and interfere with the meridian points in the feet used for acupuncture and acupressure. Improper shoes may also result in blisters and foot pains.
Good shoes are those that are kind and gentle on your feet throughout any walking exercise. This advantage will automatically reflect itself immediately after a workout.
The way your feet feel is a good indication of whether you have the right pair of walking shoes or not.
Walking boosts are one of the most important pieces of fitness equipment you should buy. According to Mike O’Neill of The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists, you are likely to face serious hip, back, knee pain, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, painful blisters and traumatized toes if you use ill-fitting walking boots during your workout.
Ramblers Association offers the following advice on the best walking boots:
If you are going for a short walk in urban areas or easy countryside, all you need is a good, comfortable pair of boots that won’t cause blisters.
Use good fitting, tough boots with an arch support, a slightly elevated heel and “breathable” uppers such as leather.
For regular walking, you could invest in a pair of lightweight walking boots. Besides probably being waterproof, they will give your feet and ankles the much-needed support. If you are going for highland walks over rough terrain, proper walking boots are vital.
Your comfort while you walk is likely to affect your speed and distance. Whether you’re going to continue to walk greatly depend on the benefits you gain. You would want to continue walking any amount of time while you are in pain or feeling uncomfortable. However, with proper boots, you can maintain a healthy, fun and injury-free walking routine.
A walking cast is a pneumatic brace used after an injury or surgery to the foot. The brace contains air cells that can be adjusted to properly fit within a strong plastic shell.
The cast offers both support and stability allowing you to steadily and progressively increase the activity of your injured leg as it continues to heal. It is meant to immobilize the movement of your ankle when walking to give the leg amble time to heal. the main goal of a walking cast, however, is to aid the post-operative healing process.
According to Medical News Today, a walking cast is more helpful in treating severe ankle sprains than a walking boot.
A study by the University of Warwick on post-operative recovery of patients who have treated with severe ankle sprains found that casts, especially the shorter ones, are more effective than simply wrapping the ankle in compression bandages, elevating the leg and icing.
Pedometers are one of the least expensive exercise equipment you could buy. Pedometers are those small electronic devices you clip to your belt or waistband to measure how many steps you take while walking.
A given number of studies have supported their accuracy, but calculations of calorie burning and distance are still not quite precise.
You can use pedometers as a basic tool to measure your activity level over a given period of workout time resulting into a more vigorous and healthier lifestyle. Most often, we use post-activity pain to tell how much we have traveled during a walk. However, a pedometer makes this a bit easier.
Pedometers are good motivational tools and wearing one is one of the least expensive yet most effective ways to enjoy your walking exercise, reports the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.
Additionally, pedometers keep track of your workout by counting the number of steps you take based on your body movements.
In doing so, pedometers help build physical and mental stamina, strengthen muscles, reduce stress, lower high blood pressure and cancer risk and improve blood circulation.
They can also relieve arthritis and back pain, and improve sleep. Its data provide the best basis upon which you can set your exercise goals. Such measurable goals improve self-confidence and motivation to achieve even better results.
Many of us are spending more time siting at desks both at work and on our computers for most of the day. A research conducted by Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, showed that this so much sitting has a direct link with the high obesity rate in the U.S. today.
In the same study, Dr. Levine concluded that we can burn about 100 calories a day by simply walking slowly over the eight hours we often spend sitting on our desks. To help achieve greater fitness goals, he recommends replacing desks and chairs with walking desks.
Walking desk has been proven to help maintain a healthy body weight by increasing metabolism. It also help increase attention and memory by 15% (source: University of Illinois), blood circulation and productivity.
Unlike sitting, standing and walking keep you alert and awake, meaning more work done by the end of the day.
Other benefits of waling desk include:
- It doesn’t require extra time, effort or motivation
- Reducing type 2 Diabetes by 50% (source: American Diabetes Association)
- Reducing cancer risk by 30-70% (source: National Institutes for Health)
- Reducing stress and depression symptoms 30%-47% faster and more effectively than medications (source: Harvard Medical School)
Incorporating hand weights to your walk is a very easy transition. The weight and size used as well as the amount of arm movement can easily be varied depending on your individual fitness levels. Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer at the American Council on Exercise states that using 1- to 3 pounds of hand weights can potentially increase your heart rate by 5 – 10 beats per minute and your caloric expenditure and oxygen intake by 5 to 15 percent.
It is therefore worth noting that hand weights when included in any walking program bring with the added benefits. Walking with hand weights:
- Increase calorie burn
- Improve muscular mass, strength and endurance
- Allow you to multitask, thereby saving valuable time
Walking poles, like walking sticks and walking canes, also improves your balance, increase speed, reduce fatigue, provide extra stability, and provide adequate workout to your upper body. Most walking poles are lightweight and can be easily adjusted to suit your height.
Using a pair of walking poles increases the distance you are likely to travel in a day allows you to walk looking up at the view rather than down at the ground.
And again, the poles help reduce the accumulated stress on the legs, feet, knees and back by ensuring even distribution and sharing the load across the whole body.
A walking stroller is one of the best postnatal fitness gears. Besides being a great way to stay fit, you also get time to share the experience with your baby.
This makes stroller walking convenient because you won’t need a babysitter.
And again, strollers could offer the best opportunity to move your young children from one place to another and enjoy quality time together.
Going up uneven surfaces you may encounter on sidewalks and paths is also made easier. In fact, most of the walking strollers are light enough, making them much easier to push uphill.
When you stroller-walk with your kids, the exercise they get gives them more appetite in the next meal as well as tire them enough for a good night’s sleep.
It’s the best way you can make them burn off all the calories and fats they consume htrough those high energy foods like sweets and candy bars.