4 February 2015

Because of how often they’re used, we sometimes forget that we have access to the best exercise equipment available – our feet. Beyond getting us from one point to another, walking is an overlooked form of exercise, due to its ease. 

But in August 2014, research released in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, indicated that walking helped people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. However, the effectiveness of this exercise came from alternating walking speeds, rather than a constant stroll.   

To get the most out of this regular – and free – routine, here are some other ways to boost your walking workout. But before you start pounding the pavement, please consult a medical professional to ascertain the speed and frequency that would best suit you and your lifestyle. 

Proper Padding
Investing in a good pair of proper footwear is important, especially as those with diabetes may have altered sensation of the feet. Wearing socks made of polyester or a blend of cotton and polyester may be useful to prevent blisters.

1.    SPEED UP
A quicker pace will turn a stroll into cardiovascular exercise. The key is finding the right intensity for your fitness level. Go too fast and you'll run out of steam in minutes. Walk too slowly and you won't get your heart rate up. 

Instead of focusing on speed, distance workouts are all about endurance. Instead of walking at a too-fast-to-talk speed for 30 minutes, try walking briskly for an hour. 

Increase the difficulty of your workout by walking both faster and farther. Or climb a hill or set a higher incline on the treadmill, which also will sculpt your glutes (buttocks). But be cautious if you have arthritis or joint pain; the descent can impact your bones. 

The beauty of walking is that you can modify it to suit your lifestyle, whether it’s fitting in a routine before picking up the kids and making dinner, or doing it during your lunch break. Your start can be slow or speedy. Do it alone or with a friend.

Sources: Diabetes Forecast, WebMD, Diabetic Society of Singapore, Health Xchange

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