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Walk this Way! Starting Your Own Walking Program Has Benefits

By:  Sindy Hassig, MSPT

The coronavirus is taking its toll worldwide and will continue to do so for some time to come. Much is known about transmission, infection, and symptoms, but there are still many unanswered questions. However, there is one thing that is almost certain to help protect an individual from contracting the virus, and that is maintaining good physical health. This is key to all aspects of your physiological well-being and mental health.

A walking program is a great way to start. All you need to begin is a good pair of supportive shoes and a nice level surface to walk on. I recommend dirt roads as there is less shock transmitted through your joints than walking on pavement. Here in Vermont, some hills may be inevitable. For hilly (and even level) terrain, I advise using a set of walking sticks. This will aid in balance and also provide some weight through your arms. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, are very important to help prevent/ minimize osteoporosis, which is a thinning of the bones that naturally occurs with aging.

Begin Slowly and Gradually Increase Your Distance

If you are new to a walking program, begin slowly with short walks and gradually increase your distance depending on how you feel afterward. Gentle stretching of your legs and back before walking and more prolonged stretching afterward will help minimize muscle and joint soreness.

The rhythmic nature of walking can help you relax and unwind and work through stressors that you may be experiencing. Walking solo can be a meditation in and of itself. On the other hand, it can be a great social event, and walking with a partner can help keep you motivated. Whichever one you choose, walking is something we were all designed to do!

Do you have aches and pains which are keeping you from engaging in regular physical exercise such as walking? Don’t know where to start? Physical therapy can help you get started on the road to improving your health. We can help you learn strategies to stay fit and healthy throughout the lifespan.

Questions?

If you have questions about how physical therapy may help you or someone you care about, please don’t hesitate to ask your health care provider or local physical therapist for information.

You can learn more about the VNA Outpatient Therapy clinic by visiting us on the web at www.vermontvisitingnurses.org or calling 802.362.6509.

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