There's a lot to love about walking: it can help you shift kilos and improve your cardiovascular fitness and joint health. "It also elevates your mood, and most importantly, uses glucose, which will help you manage your blood glucose levels (BGLs)," says DL exercise physiologist Christine Armarego.
It's also very easy to get started, so take these five simple tips and get moving!
Step One: Choose the right shoes
Good shoes are essential for any workout. They don’t need to be expensive or fancy – just sturdy, reliable and well-fitting. The fit is especially important if you have diabetes, as it’s crucial to avoid cuts, blisters and abrasions that could lead to infections. Your best bet, says exercise physiologist Carol Garber, is to visit an athletic shoe store and ask for guidance. Try the shoes on and walk around so you get a pair that fit well.
Step Two: Commit to it
Have trouble sticking to a regular routine? Put your walk in your calendar as an appointment. If it’s too hot or cold to walk outside, do laps around your local shopping centre, and ask a friend or officemate to join you. You can also find walking groups at the Heart Foundation and Bushwalking Australia,
or just google ‘local walking groups’.
Step Three: Make it fun!
There will always be days when you don’t feel like exercising. Instead of ditching it, make your workout more fun by listening to music. Research suggests that people who listen to music while exercising work out more vigorously and for longer, and are less prone to fatigue. Choose songs that motivate you, and have a good beat to walk to!
Step Four: Up the intensity
If you’ve been walking for a while and want to step it up, what’s next? Increase your time, then your speed, Garber says. For example – every week or so, add three to five minutes to your time, until you’re up to 30 minutes of walking. Once you’re doing 30 minutes on a regular basis, increase your pace in small increments. After you’ve been doing that for a while, you may find yourself ready to step it up by adding speed intervals: walk as fast as you can for two to four minutes, then slow down to your previous pace for a few minutes.
Step Five: Do strength training
“Muscular fitness and resistance exercises are important for blood glucose control and muscle and joint health,” says Garber. Hand, wrist or ankle weights can slow you down or change your form in a way that can stress your joints, so instead, work in some body-weight exercises such as wall sits, wall push-ups or lunges (consult an exercise physiologist if you’re unsure about how to perform these exercises safely).
In each 30-minute session, take a break for strength moves at the 10-minute mark.