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Get walking: the no-time no-gym get-fit plan

123 older woman walking - Get walking: the no-time walk - Exercise - Diet & wellbeing -

We know that walking can offer amazing health benefits. And we’re hoping to inspire you to join us and take the first step to a fabulous, cost-free way of boosting your mood, getting fit and feeling great.

Whether your aim is fat burning, stress busting or just to look more toned, we have the approach that can help you achieve your goal. ‘Our mantra is: “If you think you can, you will”,’ explains Walk the Walk’s inspiring founder, Nina Barough. ‘It’s a huge challenge, and we rarely give our body challenges, but most of the people who do our walks had never done anything like it before. Walking is the ideal way to lose weight and improve fitness – the hardest thing is taking the first step. But you’ll find loads of help on and once you start to succeed, feel fitter and have more energy, it becomes addictive.’ So don’t wait for the weekend, pull on your trainers, go outside and get moving.

Start with the basics

Whether your goal is a 26-mile MoonWalk or half an hour round the park, get the basics right. ‘Comfort and practicality are key qualities,’ says Nina Barough. Wear layers of loose, comfortable clothing, which you can layer up or peel off. To achieve any health benefit from your walking, you need to manage at least 30 minutes’ brisk walking five or more times a week. Walk as if you’re rushing to an appointment – energetic and purposeful. Focus on how that feels – you should be breathing faster but still be able to talk, and feel your pulse. Try the talk test – if you’re panting so much you can’t talk, it’s too fast. If you can hold a tune, speed up. And get your walking posture right. Aim to walk tall with your chin parallel to the ground, eyes focused ahead, shoulders relaxed and bottom tucked in – the right posture will lessen strain on muscles and joints.

Whatever distance you’re planning to walk, follow consultant podiatric surgeon Mike O’Neill’s guide to choosing the right trainers.

Step 1
Know your feet. ‘Everyone is different and only 20% of people have “neutral” feet,’ says Mike O’Neill. Most either have a low arch, so your feet tend to roll inwards as they hit the ground, or high arches where shock absorption is an issue because of the extra stress on the heel and forefoot. If you’re not sure about your feet, look at an old pair of shoes. If you have low arches, your shoes will show a slightly inward lean.

With high arches, the lean will be slightly outward. Or try the wet-foot test. Make footprints on a tiled floor with damp feet. If the print shows almost the whole of the sole of your foot, you probably have a low arch.

With a regular arch, the band between the heel and forefoot will be around half the width of the foot, and with a high arch you’ll see only a narrow band between the forefoot and heel.

Step 2
Buy from a reputable sports shop with trained staff – some shops have force plates or treadmills where staff can assess your feet, but the most important part is the skill of the person doing it. Avoid Saturdays when shops and staff will be busy. Take a few pairs of old trainers with you and take sports socks to try on with trainers – and for the best fit, buy shoes in the afternoon when your feet will have swollen.

Step 3
Find the right shoes for you – try four or five pairs before deciding. If you have a low arch, you need a stability trainer with extra support on the inside to prevent your feet rolling inwards, which can lead to inflamed tendons and heel, knee and shin pain. If you have a high arch, go for maximum shock absorption – without it there will be too much pressure on your heel and forefoot. Good fit is crucial, but don’t make it too snug – you need wiggle room of about 1cm for your longest toe.

Step 4
Put trainers on properly – put your foot into the shoe and tap your heel three times on the ground to lodge your heel in the back of the trainer. Lace up from the bottom, tightening the top part of the laces last – this ensures your heel is firmly held by the shoe and your toes aren’t butting up against the end of the shoe. Also, ensure that your toenails aren’t too long and wear sports socks – ideally with thicker areas on the toe and heel.

Step 5
Take it easy. Don’t do a five-mile walk in a new pair of shoes – break them in gently by wearing them round the house and garden. If you suffer from sweaty feet, wipe your feet with surgical spirit before your walk to help dry them out and prevent blistering.

Choose the walk to suit you, or click through the page numbers at the bottom of the page...

The rehab walk

The no-time walk

The stressbusting walk

The fat-burning power walk

The workout walk

The walk 'n' talk

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