Safety and Motivational Ideas for Walkers
What a beautiful sport it is, putting your foot to the pavement. You get to set your own rules of speed, style, and standard. To walk or run, each has its own benefits, as well as its own dedicated participants.
Anyone who says that walking is easier than running probably is not walking properly. In that case, consider this an invitation into learning about it. Every course description on Run The Planet is intended for walkers too, and it wouldn't be surprising if while a walker is using the course, a few huffy puffy knee-braced runners are left behind to ponder if walking wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
With that said, here are some helpful walking tips:
- Consistency matters - At this time of year, during the Holiday season, when there are so many more demands on your time, it's easy to "de-prioritize" your walking regimen right out of existence. You'll hate yourself if you look like you were swallowed by a jelly donut at the first of the year! Take the 20-Minute Challenge: promise yourself that you will walk at least 20 minutes every day between today and January 1. Don't put on your special duds, just change into your walking shoes and socks and get out the door. Now! Mark your desk calendar for every day you honor this commitment. Everything counts! The self-esteem you salvage will put you in the perfect frame of mind to set safe, sane and enjoyable walking goals when New Year's Day rolls around.
- Buddy up - Most Americans gain 7-14 pounds during the holiday "Bermuda Triangle" - Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanukah and New Year's. Don't let that happen to you. Now that cooler, darker weather is upon us, don't let the winter doldrums undo all your great spring and summer fitness. Make a commitment with a friend to meet for regular exercise at least three times each week. Then, do it! You'll deserve to be smug that your clothes still fit you by Valentine's Day!
- Got blisters? - If you have got blisters, the real cure is a process of elimination. Try each of these to see if you can get past the pain: a) Check inside shoes for rough spots; b) Use microfiber socks; c) Try petroleum jelly (or petroleum-free substitutes) - gobs! c) Have your shoes/shoe choice re-assessed by an expert; d) Use blister care bandaids. None of these solutions work? Time to see a sports medicine podiatrist or physical therapist to rule out biomechanical causes. Go for a long term solution to keep on walking!
- Think safety - Look both ways before stepping out into the street. It only takes a split second of distraction on anyone's part for an accident to occur. As the old saying goes "It doesn't much matter whether the pot hits the rock or the rock hits the pot; either way it's going to be bad for the pot". No matter who was at fault, it will be your fitness program that is out the window if you end up in a full-leg cast! Be aware of your surroundings. Think safety.
- Think about lighting your path - More than one walker has had a serious knee injury from tripping over a raised section of a sidewalk. If you are walking on streets without street lights, consider carrying a flashlight or making a fashion statement by wearing a headlamp.
- Wear identification - Think about this: most of us are fitting our walking routine into the hours before and after work. In January and February, that means we're walking in the dark. And, most of us don't report where we are going and when we will return to anyone - we just walk out the door. If something did happen, it could be hours before anyone figured out we were missing. If anything were to happen to you on your walk, it's important for others to be able to swiftly come to your aid, especially if you are unable to speak for yourself. Wear a visible ID necklace or shoe tag that includes this basic information: your name, the name of an emergency contact person plus, that person's phone number with area code, your blood type (if known), any medications you are taking and any allergies your have. While you could include additional information (i.e. health record number), you might want to consider whether to note your address if you also carry your house key on the same chain as the ID tag.
- Be visible - Wear reflective clothing. You can find jackets made with materials that are luminescent when lit by car headlights. Search out reflective vests, flashing lights and reflective shoe patches at stores that sell apparel for walkers, runners or bicyclists. Think about putting some of that light on a part of your body that will be moving, like your arm, hands or shoe, so as to attract attention. While a reflective vest is helpful, it can also be mistaken for a mailbox reflector since it stays at the same height and seems to be unmoving to a driver in dark or foggy conditions.