(WGHP) — Spring is the perfect time of year to get outside, get some fresh air and move your body.

Getting physical activity can be as simple as walking.

Deborah Stanton, a certified personal trainer and owner of Moving Room Coaching in High Point, explains how a walking routine can improve your health.

Talking points:

Do you need certain sneakers for walking on sidewalks?

  • Look for sneakers that provide good cushioning to absorb shock when your feet hit the ground.
  • Choose sneakers that provide decent arch support so that we avoid excessive over pronation.
  • Make sure you have adequate room in the toe box. It’s important to transfer force over your big toe, and other toes, when walking. 

 How much walking is beneficial on a daily/weekly basis? 

This depends on various factors, including age, health status, fitness level, and goals.         

  • For adults, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, which includes brisk walking. This can be broken down into 30 minutes of walking, five days a week. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, which includes activities such as running, hiking, or high-intensity interval training.
  • For older adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, as well as exercises to improve balance and prevent falls.
  • If you are new to exercise, it is recommended to start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your walks as you become more comfortable and fit.
  • It is also important to incorporate strength training and flexibility exercises into your routine for overall health and fitness.

How much does pace matter?      

The most important thing is to be consistent with your walking and choose a pace that works for you.

  • A moderate walking pace is about 3 to 4 miles per hour (mph), or 15 to 20 minutes per mile. This pace can be a good starting point for beginners or those who are returning to exercise after a long break.
  • A brisk walking pace is about 4 to 5 mph, or 12 to 15 minutes per mile. This pace can provide a more vigorous workout and burn more calories.
  • A power walking pace is about 5 to 6 mph, or 10 to 12 minutes per mile. This pace can provide a challenging workout and improve cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. 

Any apps/ methods to track distance and pace

Apple Watch, Garmin, Map My Run, Pedometer, FitBit. There are so many! It really comes down to preference, price, and what motivates you.

Correct posture and way to walk

To help prevent injuries, reduce strain on your joints, and improve your overall walking efficiency.

  • Stand up straight: Keep your shoulders back and down, your chest lifted, and your head level.
  • Engage your core: Tighten your abdominal muscles to help support your back and maintain good posture.
  • Swing your arms: Your arms should swing naturally at your sides, with a slight bend in your elbows. Your arms should swing opposite to your legs, so when your left leg moves forward, your right arm should swing forward, and vice versa.
  • Take small steps: Take small steps rather than long strides. This can help reduce the impact on your joints and improve your walking efficiency.
  • Land on your heel and roll through your foot: Land on your heel and roll through your foot, pushing off with your toes. This helps distribute the impact of each step and reduces the strain on your feet and legs.
  • Look straight ahead: Keep your eyes focused straight ahead, rather than looking down at the ground. This can help you maintain good posture and prevent neck strain.

Safety reminders for outside walks 

  • Walk facing traffic: If you’re walking on a road without a sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic. This allows you to see and react to any cars or other vehicles coming towards you.
  • Wear reflective clothing: If you’re walking in low-light conditions or at night, wear reflective clothing or accessories to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  • Use crosswalks: Always use crosswalks when crossing streets or intersections,and wait for the “walk” signal before crossing.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid using headphones or other distractions that can keep you from hearing approaching cars or other hazards.
  • Stay hydrated: Bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated, especially on hot days.
  • Avoid uneven surfaces: Be mindful of uneven surfaces, such as cracked sidewalks or rocky trails, and wear appropriate footwear to reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
  • Bring your phone: Bring your phone with you in case of emergencies or if you need to call for help.
  • Walk with a friend: Consider walking with a friend or a group, especially if you’re walking in an unfamiliar or isolated area.

Additional benefits of outdoor walks

  • Exposure to natural light: Outdoor walks allow you to get exposure to natural light, which can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, improve your mood, and boost your vitamin D levels.
  • Fresh air: Outdoor walks also provide an opportunity to breathe in fresh air, which can improve your lung function and provide a mental boost.
  • Connection with nature: Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and boost cognitive function.
  • Increased physical activity: Walking outdoors often involves uneven terrain, inclines, and other challenges that can increase the intensity of your workout and help you burn more calories.
  • Boosts creativity: Being in nature and experiencing new sights and sounds can stimulate creativity and improve problem-solving abilities.
  • Social interaction: Walking outdoors can also provide an opportunity for social interaction, whether it’s walking with a friend or joining a walking group.