Public Health
Walking
   
Introduction:
Hippocrates once said, "Walking is man's best medicine".

Walking is one of the simplest, least expensive and easiest physical activities and does not require any special equipment or skills. It is a means to improve physical fitness, to maintain health and to reduce stress. Unfortunately, walking has not achieved the recognition it deserves with regard to improving health or as a means of transportation and entertainment. In the modern time we find that the more mankind is developed the less is their engagement in exercises.  
 
The sport can be practiced at anytime, anywhere (parks, markets, public roads, beaches and others). It is not limited to a certain age, even if the person cannot exercise in general due to his/her health conditions. Walking will contribute to improving health and restoring fitness, and can be made part of everyday life.

Benefits of walking:
  • ​Burning extra calories.
  • Maintaining healthy weight and improving physical fitness.
  • Preventing chronic diseases (such as: heart diseases, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes).
  • Helping to reduce level of LDL cholesterol.
  • Boosting bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
  • Reducing anxiety or depression and improving mood.
  • Marinating joint flexibility and muscle strength.
  • Improving balance and blood flow in the body.  
The faster, longer, and more frequent the walk, the greater the benefits. 

Walking duration:
It is recommended to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, and it is not necessarily to walk for hours to get its benefits, it is enough to walk for more than 10 minutes a day and increase the distance gradually until you reach the recommended goal.
Because walking is less intense than jogging, it will take longer and more time to reach the benefits of jogging. The American Heart Association recommends walking for at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week (150 minutes per week), which is equivalent to running 20 minutes a day for three days per week. 

Difference between jogging and walking:
Walking does not simply mean slow jogging, but the difference goes beyond that. Walking means that one foot on the ground is at least rotating all the time. As for jogging, both feet rise at one stage (i.e. jump), and the higher the speed, the longer the jumps.

Walking.jpg


Difference between walking, stair climbing or hiking, and others:
Climbing is generally 50% more intense than normal walking or descending or weight lifting, as a person reaches the peak effort when climbing faster than normal walking, so most people feel tired when they climb up. However, you will burn calories faster climbing the stairs.
Because of the increased effort when traveling long distances, it is recommended only for those who have sufficient fitness to do, but it is OK to do so for short distances, and in a simple and fast pace for its additional benefits on health, but not recommended after a heavy meal or when feeling sick.

The right way to walk:
Transforming the normal walk into a healthy walk requires standing in an appropriate position and performing certain meaningful movements as follows:
  • ​Raise your head, look straight not to the ground.
  • Keep your neck, shoulders and back pulled back, but relaxed.
  • Move the arms freely with a slight curvature of the elbows, noting that the movement of the arms comes from the shoulder and not from the elbow.
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles and keep the back straight, appropriately.
  • Consider flexibility of the knee and not moving the leg and thigh together.
  • Walk smoothly, with the foot heel touching the ground first and then the fingers.​
    Walking instructions:
  • ​Choose proper shoe with strong heel, thick and flexible lining to absorb shocks, and does not cause skin ulcers.
  • If you walk to work, it is OK to wear normal work clothes, and wear comfortable clothes with bright colors when walking outdoor at night.
  • Choosing the right place: if you walk outdoor, it is recommended to avoid rough roads with broken pavements and excavations, and if the weather is not appropriate for walking, it is recommended to go to areas designed for walking.
  • If walking is for long distance, it is recommended to bring some water, snacks, backup clothes, a sunscreen, and sun hat.
  • Warm-up: start with slow walking for five to ten minutes to warm the muscles and prepare the body for exercising.
  • Cooling: at the end of walking slow down for five to ten minutes, to calm the muscles.
  • Stretching exercises: muscle stretching exercises can be performed after warming-up or after cooling-down.

Tips for diabetics before start walking:
  • ​Adjust your medications (insulin injection or drugs).
  • Refrain from injecting insulin in the thigh muscle because exercising in general make them absorb insulin very quickly.
  • Check your blood sugar levels 15 minutes before walking and one hour after walking.
  • Avoid walking if you notice an abnormal increase in blood sugar.
  • People at the risk of low blood sugar level are advised to walk with a partner for emergency care.
  • Organize meal times to avoid low sugar, as the person will remain vulnerable to decline at any moment for more than a day after walking.
Tips for asthma patients before start walking:
Walking is a great way for people with asthma. It helps to expand the lungs and relax, by following these tips:
  • ​Use your inhaler at least half an hour before start walking.
  • Take the inhaler with you for emergencies.
  • Make sure you warm up before you start walking.
  • Avoid walking in areas with polluted air such as congested roads.
  • Cover your face with a scarf or fleece when the air is cold. 
Walking for seniors:
Make sure the walking site is safe and the floor is flat and not arduous and review any particular needs before start walking.  

Children walking:
Children are easily bored and may need a little encouragement to keep walking. Here are some tips:
  • ​Focus on exciting place for them (such as: a garden, playground, etc.) where they can walk freely.
  • Walk them on a winding path.
  • Take a camera and ask for their help to take pictures.
  • Encourage the child to invite a friend for walking.
  • Provide snacks and healthy drinks, and he must take a rest if your child looked fatigued. 
Warnings about walking:
  • ​Stop walking when feeling dizziness, exhaustion, or shortness of breath.
  • Avoid walking under direct sunlight.
  • Practice walking alone if you have chronic diseases.
  • Pay attention to the road while walking to avoid falling.
  • Refrain from eating during walking or soon after walking to avoid digestive disorders.
  • Drink water before, during and after your workouts. 

Good walking signs:
The right walk is 3 miles per hour (the mile is about 1,600 meters, or about a kilometer and a half), which means jogging, not hiking, and smart applications can be used to calculate mileage.

Tips to encourage walking:
  • ​Park your car away and walk up to your destination.
  • Walk with friends.
  • Hike with family and friends.
  • Instead of wasting the time sitting, go out for a walk during your break at work.
  • Use the stairs instead of elevators.
  • Walk to pick your children up from school.
  • Listen to audio clip to get distracted from the efforts of walking.
  • Set a specific goal and seek to reach it and follow up level of improvement the walking brought to you.
  • Use smart applications for encouragement and follow-up.
  • Change the site continuously and vary your route if you walk outdoor. 
When to consult a doctor?
  • ​Persons with heart problems.
  • Persons with diabetes.
  • Persons with arthritis.
  • Persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
  • Does using treadmill have the same effect as walking outdoors?
They are both of similar effects.
  • Is walking barefoot bad for you?
It is important to wear proper and comfortable shoes while walking, and should choose a shoe with cushion to absorb foot’s collision with the ground, and it is also important to wear well-fitting shoes and sweat absorbent cotton socks. 


Clinical Education General Department
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