What we can learn from walkers

When was the last time you went for a casual stroll? I’m not talking about a required walk because you were unlucky enough to park far away from a store’s entrance or even taking the long way around the block because your dog needs to be out of the house longer. I mean a nice, intentional walk. It turns out, walking for exercise is coming back in style. CDC research shows that the number of Americans who go for a walk at least once a week rose from 56 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2010. That’s nearly 20 million more people on their feet. Of course, life is about more than following trends. Walking can also be helpful for your general wellness.

As AARP reports, the “U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults engage in 30 minutes of physical activity (such as walking) five days a week based on the proven connection between moderate physical activity and lower incidences of major medical problems — not just heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as you’d expect, but also depression, dementia, anxiety, colon cancer, osteoporosis and other serious conditions.”

Furthermore, in 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General released a Call to Action on the health and social benefits of walking and walkable communities. In New York and across the US, communities are focusing on making neighborhoods more walkable and accessible by foot. In addition to being healthy, walking can increase the sense of togetherness and unity among people. After all, walking has no limits based on age, education, gender, or language.

If you are thinking about jumping on board the walking bandwagon, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help ensure that your feet and ankles remain in tiptop shape.

First, make sure you have the proper equipment. Walking is pretty laid-back, but you’ll still want to take care and confirm that your shoes are supportive for your arches and give your feet plenty of room to breathe. This is essential for preventing corns and bunions and can save you from aches and pains down the line.

You should also be mindful of where you are walking. Avoid paths that are slippery, bumpy, or otherwise difficult to navigate. Random sticks, rocks, cracks, and uneven sidewalks can easily be tripped over. This might cause a painful fall or a twisted ankle.

Finally, take your time and enjoy yourself. If you think of walking as something you have to do, it’s less likely that you will enjoy the experience. Don’t compare yourself to others, either. Walk at a pace and distance that is comfortable for you. If you start to feel pain in your feet or ankles, stop and rest. This is especially true if you are recovering from an injury or procedure and are using walking as a step toward recovery.

If you have questions about how walking or other exercises can impact your foot health, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions!