Walking is a good exercise. Any exercise guru will tell you that walking burns calories, stimulates blood circulation and helps lower cholesterol levels, among other benefits. If it is not possible to do some workout, or get some jogging or running done on a regular basis, walking is the next best thing.
Establishing a walking routine also isn’t that difficult. All it involves is a determined effort to choose walking over other options of mobility available. For example, if your office or your apartment is on the, say, third floor, you can use the stairs instead of riding the elevator. Or, if you are going to a place that is only a few blocks away, you can keep your car parked in the garage instead of going for a drive.
But as simple as walking can be, you still should not rush headlong into it either, especially during the summer. Just as if you are about to do something strenuous, you need to prepare your body if you are going to do some walking. In the summer heat, the heat wave can catch you if you are unprepared. The price of being unprepared is dehydration, heatstroke and skin damage. So, how do you get some walking done without getting into any serious harm under the summer sun?
First, do your walking when the sun is not yet high, or is already on the verge of setting. This means doing it early in the morning, or quite late in the afternoon. The rule of thumb here is staying out of the sun from ten in the morning until five in the afternoon. This is the time when the sunlight is strongest and ultraviolet rays can do the most harm. For added protection, map out your route for your walk and choose areas where there is ample shade.
Second, keep yourself hydrated while you walk. Give yourself a big glass of water at least one hour before you start your walk, and then take water breaks every 20 or 30 minutes. Stick to water and avoid soda or sugary drinks because sugary drinks can make you nauseous. If you think you are going to be walking for more than an hour and that you are going to be sweating a lot, substitute water with a sports drink. This will quickly replace your body’s electrolytes.
Third, protect your eyes, your head and your skin. Wear a hat or a cap with a visor, as well as sunglasses that filter ultraviolet rays. Coat your skin liberally with sun-blocking lotion so you won’t get sunburn. And because dark colors absorb heat while light colors reflect it, wear light-colored clothes.
Lastly, gauge your body as you walk. If you are feeling dizzy, nauseous or having trouble breathing, rest for a while and take a drink. These are signs that your body has had enough heat and exertion for the time being. Watch out for these signs and do not force yourself to continue if you feel that you couldn’t take it anymore.
Walking is a very enjoyable activity if you do it right. Not only will you be getting the exercise that your body needs, but who knows what you’d see and meet while walking? Happy walking!