Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Walk On!

Retirement hard on your waist line? Spending a little too much time at your computer or in front of the TV? Walk away those retirement blues! And enjoy the benefits of a regular exercise program that is easy and inexpensive, and can be performed in almost any kind of weather.

Your first and only serious investment is a good pair of walking shoes. Here in Ashland, Oregon, we are fortunate to have a great shoe store called Rogue Valley Runners. Despite the name, they also are a great resource for walkers. Here’s a quote from their web site:

“Here at Rogue Valley Runners, we are committed to properly fitting each foot that walks or runs through our doors. Every employee is trained to talk with you about your specific needs, concerns, or goals ensuring you that the shoe that you are fitted for is the right shoe for your foot. We also offer a free video camera/stride analysis service at the store to help with your footwear selection.”

Don’t be afraid to spend around $100 for a good pair of shoes. They will last you at least 6 months to a year. You can also add orthotics, either the over-the-counter kind, or custom ones that a physical therapist can fabricate for you.

Your second investment might be an inexpensive pedometer. I got one for my couch potato husband a few months ago, and he loves the challenge of trying to meet or exceed his goal each week by counting those steps. If that’s the kind of motivation that gets you out there walking every day, then you can buy a pedometer at any department or discount store that has athletic equipment. I bought one at BiMart for under $4.00.

Of course it’s a good idea to consult your physician or physical therapist before initiating any kind of exercise program to make sure you don’t have any medical condition or disorder of your joints or muscles that would make walking contraindicated.

One way to insure your continued participation in a walking program is to enlist a fellow walking buddy, or join a group of walkers. The Rogue Valley Mall has a dedicated group of walkers that stride out in all kinds of weather (it’s nice to have air conditioning in the hot Medford summers as well as shelter from winter rain and snow), and enjoy a cup of coffee together afterward. It’s a great way to meet new friends, and stay in touch with old ones.

So far Mark has lost 6 pounds of holiday flab, doing very little else in terms of changing his eating and drinking habits, just by walking every day. He figures he burns approx. 100 calories in a 30-minute walk, so with everything else being equal, that would amount to almost one pound a month, or 12 pounds in a year. And Mikey the Border Collie is ecstatic to have regular walks to look forward to!

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