Walking is a great way to get fit. It improves circulation and mobility, promotes weight loss and even helps reduce stress. And there's no better time to begin a walking routine than right now. If you're not used to being active, start with 10 minutes each day and build as your energy increases. When you begin, find a comfortable pace and try to add about three to five minutes to your walking time each week. A good goal is to shoot for is to walk 30 to 45 minutes, five days a week. Remember, however, that your walks don’t have to be long and strenuous to be beneficial.
The goal of this Pay it Forward “100 Million Steps” Campaign is to simply encourage as many people as possible to get moving and improve their fitness level by walking. In particular, the goal is to challenge each person to increase their steps per day and work up to taking 10,000 steps a day, that’s just about walking five miles. 10,000 steps a day is recommended to achieve the health benefits associated with walking.
Your objective for this campaign is to pay forward a minimum of 50,000 steps to five people in your personal network who will then continue with this process. Each person will forward 50,000 steps to someone they know.
The foundation is set on you reaching your daily walking requirement. By referring to your pedometer throughout the day you will know if you are on track. If you're not on track then you need to get moving. This is where the accountability factor comes in. You are accountable for meeting your daily step goals.
A walking program should always rely on the use of a good pedometer, a walking log and a heart rate monitor (optional). This program relies on both the pedometer and the walking log as excellent tools that allow participants to easily monitor the number of steps taken as well as heart rate and caloric expenditure during the day. They are proven motivational tools. The heart rate monitor, although optional, measures your heart rate, tracks your caloric expenditure, measures your current fitness level and provides a complete guidance and feedback on your progress. The pedometer accurately tracks distance (mi) in km/miles, calculates total distance (mi) traveled and measures time and calories burned.
Motivation is the key! Your walking partner will be with you every step of the way through continuous follow ups. Being accountable to someone other than yourself will greatly increase the probability of success. This will give you the opportunity to see where you can make improvements in a number of areas.
Don’t worry about the difficulty of taking 10,000 steps. On a typical day most sedentary people will take somewhere around 3,000 - 5,000 steps, if that much. All it may take for you is to walk an extra mile a day and before you know it you’re there.
All of the information and materials you need are enclosed! In the pages to come, you’ll find information complete with the essential materials needed to carry out your program.
There’s no doubt about it. As the weeks go by, you’ll discover that you are on a winning streak, no one can lose, even if they try. As you begin to feel and look better people will notice and before you know it they want to join you. Everybody wins! It’s that simple. Follow the guide, start walking, and enjoy the benefits of a more active lifestyle.
Before you get started here are a few things to consider.
Set weekly goals such as:
- Length of activity time and weekly distance (mi)
- Amounts of calories to burn while walking (weekly expenditure)
- Number of steps to take while walking (weekly steps taken)
- Look for ways to stay motivated:
- Recruit partners - consider teaming up with a friend, family members or co-worker (s)
- Load up your ipod with your favorite tunes and take it along with you
- Create visual markers as destination points along the route
- Get creative with your walks so you are never bored
- Before starting your walking plan, wear your pedometer for 3-5 days to get a general idea on your fitness level and where you should begin. Our beginner plan starts out a 2,000 steps, moderate at 4,000 steps, intermediate at 6,000 steps and advanced at 8,000 steps.
Although walking is generally safe for everyone, if you plan to walk faster than you normally do, you may need a check-up. Always consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program. Your doctor may recommend that you have an exercise stress test to rule out cardiovascular issues, especially if your diabetes has not been well controlled for a while, you’re older, or you have a number of heart disease risk factors (like hypertension, family history, or smoking).
Pedometers & walking logs
How to use the pedometer
Many people wear their pedometer all day. By simply walking to a further parking space, walking your children to school, walking your dog, taking a stroll with a friend during lunch you can boost your number of steps from 4,000 to 10,000 on an average day without making walking a major activity. Your pedometer will tell you exactly how many steps you have taken. Some pedometer may also, track your number of steps, distance (mi), calories and even your speed when taking walks. If the pedometer is keeping you walking or walking more, you are using it correctly.
Think about what you do each day and how you can work in more steps. Can you take the stairs more often instead of an elevator? Can you park further away from where you work, shop, or do errands? Can you get up to change the TV channel rather than using the remote? You’ll be amazed at how these extra minutes and steps add up.
Here’s how to wear the pedometer to get the most accurate reading:
- Wear the pedometer snugly against your body, attached to a belt or the waistline on your clothing. If your clothing doesn’t have a waistband, you can attach your pedometer to a piece of elastic tied around your waist. Another option is to place the pedometer along the small of your back.
- Try to have the pedometer line up vertically with the crease on your pants or the center of your kneecap.
- The pedometer should be parallel to the ground. If it is tilted to one side or another, it will not give you an accurate recording of your steps.
- Wear it all day, but make sure it is comfortable.
- Clip firmly to your waistband or belt.
- Make sure you can read the display without removing it from your waistband.
- Take care not press the wrong buttons accidentally or you may erase all your data for the day.
Start moving with the first 10,000 steps
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 54.1 percent of adults don't do the minimum level of physical activity that is recommended for their well-being, while 25% aren’t active at all. Where do you fit in?
- With this walking campaign, you can make physical inactivity a thing of the past. This program was designed to get you more physically active. In fact, our goal is for you to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day by the end of the campaign! This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that (as an inactive person) you are probably already walking 3,000 to 5,000 steps each day.
- We know this goal may seem steep and that’s why we’ve included some great tools to keep you moving. In addition, you’ll receive supplemental handouts informing you of what you need to know as you take on this challenge.
- Overall, deciding to become more active is a great move – 100 Million Steps just makes it that much easier to incorporate physical activity into your life.
Using the pedometer for losing weight
Maybe you have heard the recent guidelines about walking10,000 steps per day. How far is 10,000 steps anyway? The average person's stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long. That means it takes just over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles.
Here’s a 70 steps formula to help you associate distance (mi) and time with the number of steps you take:
70 steps per minute = 30 minutes per mile, or 2 miles per hour
105 steps per minute = 20 minutes per mile, or 3 miles per hour
140 steps per minute = 15 minutes per mile, or 4 miles per hour
- By walking just an extra five minutes a day you can burn an additional 24 calories per workout. That may not seem like much, but over the course of one year it adds up to a total of 8,760 additional calories burned.
- Use your pedometer for one week without changing your activity level. Just do what you always do. Every night before sleeping, write down how many steps you took that day. At the end of the week, get your average. This is your baseline.
- Ask yourself how you can increase the number of steps you take by 10 percent.
- Increase the number of steps you take by no more than 10% a week until you reach 10,000 steps a day. Or you can increase you activity by time and distance (mi).
- You could try to increase the number of steps each by 500 a day every couple of weeks. Or you could increase your time and distance (mi) incrementally by using the 70 steps formula.
- If it's your first time using a pedometer and you discover that you are already taking 10,000 steps but you are overweight, you can either increase the speed at which you walk or increase the number of steps you take.
- There have been cases of people needing to walk 18,000 steps to lose weight, usually because they did not want to make changes in their eating habits.
Using your walking log
You can use your walking log to do the following:
- Keep Track – For the next six months, keep track of your daily steps, time, or distance (mi) on the walking log. At the end of the program, return your walking log tally to the team coordinator.
- Set goals – The goal of this program is to increase your physical activity, so don’t compare your daily activity to someone else’s. Your goal is to take more steps per day by the end of the program than you did at the beginning. In each box, record the number of steps, time, or distance (mi) walked each day. Write down you total exercise calorie expenditure and your maximum and average heart rate from your heart rate monitor.
- Write it down - Whether your goal is to walk 30 minutes a day, or to lose five pounds by the end of this walking campaign, your goal is more tangible if it’s written down. By writing your goals down you’ll have a constant reminder and a little extra push to achieve what you set out to do in the beginning.
Walking the walk
Tips for walking
All walks are not created equal. There are several different ways to infuse your walk with energy and style. Below is a list of tips to make your walking experience enjoyable, productive and safe.
- Make a plan - People tend to be more successful when they set specific physical activity goals for themselves. Once you set a realistic, specific goal for yourself, make a plan to achieve that goal. It may help to write down your goals and your plan.
- Start small - Begin by walking short distance (mi)s - start with a five-minute routine and gradually increase your distance (mi). Set your first goal at three ten minute walks each week or even less. If you reach this goal, increase the number of minutes you walk. Then increase the number of times a week you walk. However, don’t feel that if you can’t exercise for 30 minutes at a time, it’s not worth it. It’s just as good to add up 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there for a total of 30 minutes. This may be easier to fit in.
- No need to speed - Walk at a comfortable pace, focus on good posture, and keep your head lifted and shoulders squared and relaxed. As your program progresses you’ll feel more comfortable with increasing your speed.
- Strut your stuff - Swing your arms naturally, and breathe rhythmically with your foot step. If you can’t catch your breath, slow down or avoid going up hills. Swinging your arm increases your intensity as well as propels you forward.
- Talk the talk – But, keep walking the walk. If you can’t converse while you’re walking, you are going too fast. Slow down a bit.
- Log in - Start a log to keep track of your progress. You may be starting out slow, but you’ll see your improvement over time - not only physically, but on paper as well.
- Have a goal in mind - Whether you are walking for stress relief; weight loss to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer or diabetes; or because of arthritis or osteoporosis, it all adds up to improving the quality of your life.
- Be safe - Walk with a buddy. Avoid paths with uneven pavements or sidewalks. Observe all traffic laws. If you walk in the dark, wear light-colored or reflective clothing, vests, arm bands and/or hats. Whenever you share the road with traffic, walk facing oncoming traffic. Carry personal identification with you.
- Wear proper clothing and shoes - Wear proper walking shoes. Keep an extra pair of walking shoes at work, so that lack of appropriate footwear won't be an excuse not to go for a walk! Dress in layers, and don't forget to use sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
- Drink water - When you exercise, you need extra water to maintain normal body temperature and cool your muscles. Drink before, during, and after your walk (1-1.5 cups of water for a 20-minute walk).
- Learn to walk properly - Yes, there is a proper technique!
- Walk so that the heel of your foot touches the ground first, then roll your weight forward.
- Keep your chin up and your shoulders back.
- Start and finish with a few minutes of gentle stretching.
- Think of your walk as having three parts: start with 5 minutes of slow walking, then increase your pace (walking uphill requires more effort), and end with 5 minutes of slower walking.
- Warming up gradually increases your heart rate and improves blood flow to your muscles.
- Cooling down allows the heart rate and muscles to return to normal.
Stretching berfore you go
When should you stretch?
Muscles are more easily stretched when they are warm. A short warm-up period of 5 to 10 minutes of walking or jogging in place will warm up your muscles enough so that you can stretch them well. It is best if you can stretch every day. Stretching before or after an activity may also improve your flexibility.
How should you stretch?
There are several methods that can be used for stretching but the safest and most popular method involves static stretching. With static stretching, your muscle is slowly lengthened to the point where you feel a mild stretch. You then hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds and then slowly release the stretch. The most important rule to follow for any stretching exercise is that it must not be painful. If you stretch to the point of pain, the muscle will not relax and might even become tighter!
To stretch safely follow these rules:
- 1.Never force a stretch - it should always be pain-free.
- 2.Never stretch when your muscles are cold.
- 3.Stretching should be avoided if you have just injured a muscle or joint and there is noticeable swelling or bruising in the area.
- 4.Use extra caution if you have osteoporosis or have been using steroid medicine for a long period of time.
- 5.Avoid stretching in the area of a recent fracture.
- 6.Never bounce while doing stretches as that increases your risk of injury.
- 7.Stretch all of the major muscle groups in your upper body, lower body, and core region.
What stretches should you do?
For a general stretching program, try to stretch all the major muscles of the body. If you are getting ready for a certain activity (such as, running, tennis, walking, etc.), make sure you stretch the areas of your body that will be used in that activity.
These basic exercises will stretch many of your major muscle groups.
- Pectoralis stretch: Stand in a doorway or corner with both arms on the wall slightly above your head. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Wrist stretch: With your right hand, help to bend your left wrist down by pressing the back of left your hand and holding it down for 15 to 30 seconds. Next, stretch the hand back by pressing the fingers in a backward direction and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds. Do 3 sets. Do on both hands.
- Upper trapezius stretch: The upper trapezius muscle connects your shoulder to your head. Sitting in an upright position, put your right arm behind your back and gently grasp the right side of your head with your left hand to help tilt your head toward the left. You will feel a gentle stretch on your right side. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Standing hamstring stretch: Place the heel of your leg on a stool about 15 inches high. Keep your knee straight. Lean forward, bending at the hips until you feel a mild stretch in the back of your thigh. Make sure you do not rollyour shoulders and bend at the waist when doing this or you will stretch your lower back instead. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Quadriceps stretch: Stand an arm's length away from the wall, facing straight ahead. Brace yourself by keeping the hand on the uninjured side against the wall. With your other hand, grasp the ankle of the injured leg and pull your heel toward your buttocks. Don't arch or twist your back and keep your knees together. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Standing calf stretch: Facing a wall, put your hands against the wall at about eye level. Keep your right leg back, the left leg forward. Keep the heel of left leg on the floor. Turn your left foot slightly inward (as if you were pigeon-toed) as you slowly lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Switch legs and repeat.
- Hip flexor stretch: Kneel on both knees and place your uninjured leg forward, with the foot resting flat on the floor. From this position, lean forward at the hip and attempt to press your pelvis down toward the floor until you feel a stretch at the front of your hip. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Piriformis stretch: Lying on your back with both knees bent, rest the ankle of your right leg over the knee of your left leg. Grasp the thigh of your left leg and pull the knee toward your chest. You will feel a stretch along the buttocks and possibly along the outside of your hip on your right side. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Switch legs and repeat.
- Hip adductor stretch: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and put your feet flat on the floor. Gently spread your knees apart, stretching the muscles on the inside of your thigh. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Lower trunk rotation: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Keeping your shoulders down flat, gently rotate your legs to one side, then the other as far as you can. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
- Double knee to chest: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Pull both knees up to your chest. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 to 20 times.
Easy does it
In fact, improper walking technique can cause strain on your body and even result in injury.
- Don’t: Over stride—when you try to walk fast, a natural inclination is to lengthen your stride in the front, reaching out further with your forward foot. This increases the risk of straining your leg muscles.
- Do: Take shorter, quicker steps. If you want to move quickly, taking shorter, quicker strides is the way to go.
- Don’t: Be a stiff arm—straight, motionless arms act like a long pendulum, slowing you down. Lack of arm movement can also throw off your balance as you walk.
- Do: Bend your arms at 90 degrees and swing them naturally back and forth, opposite the leg motion—you can add power and speed by using your arms effectively.
- Don’t: Put your head down—walking with your head down could cause back, neck, and shoulder strain.
- Do: Look up! Good posture for walking allows you to breathe well. Your chin should be parallel to the ground, and your eyes should focus on the street or track 10 to 20 feet ahead.
- Don’t: Lean your body—leaning your body forward or backward doesn’t contribute o speed or good technique. In fact, leaning can result in back pain.
- Do: Stand up straight but with relaxed shoulders, chin parallel to the ground. Your back should have a natural curve - if you feel a strain in your lower back, you’re probably not at a relaxed position.
In low-visibility and bad road conditions, you don't want to walk where there's traffic. Instead, head to parks, bike paths, high school tracks, or residential streets that draw very few cars. Always wear reflective gear. If it gets really cold, try walking at the mall. It’s unfortunate, but like any other type of physical activity, walking can result in injuries and accidents. However, many of these mishaps can be avoided if you properly plan and follow a few guidelines.
- Walk in numbers.
- Wear colors that are bright and reflect in the night.
- Walk in lighted areas.
- Carry a whistle or cell phone to use if you need help.
- Tell someone when you’re going for a walk and when they should expect you back.
- If you’re walking alone, select a route that is highly visible to other people—if others can see you, you’ll increase your safety.
- Walk so that oncoming traffic is facing you.
- Use crosswalks when crossing streets and obey traffic signals.
- Bring your dog with you.
- If you wear a Walkman try to keep the volume to a minimum so you are still aware of your surroundings.
Facing the elements
When walking in cold weather, you need to dress in layers that will wick away moisture, insulate from the cold, and keep out the wind and rain. From head to toe and inside to outside, here is what to wear.
Cold weather tips - Use the layering principle
- Base layer - Wear wicking fabric to keep your skin dry and prevent that clammy feeling.
- Insulating layer - Wear fleece or wool, vest or shirt that can be added or removed depending on how cold you feel.
- Windproof and water resistant outer layer - A jacket, preferably with a hood, to keep out the elements.
- Walk at a moderate or slow pace - Winter roads and paths can be icy. The bigger your strides, the higher your risk of falling.
- Bring water - Don't assume you only need water in summertime. Dry winter air is dehydrating, and you do sweat away water in winter–you just don't always realize it.
Aim to wear three layers
"It's better to have and not need," says Nottingham. You can always peel the layers off.
- Avoid cotton - "Try clothes made out of material that will keep moisture away from your skin, so you won't get cold. Nike's Dri-Fit clothes are a good bet," advises Nottingham.
- Wear gloves - Grab ski gloves if it's snowing. A hat and a neck gaiter (a muff for your neck) will help keep you warm. If your ears, hands or head get too cold, go inside.
- Protect your eyes - Wear sunglasses or, if it's snowing, goggles with a light-colored lens, to protect your eyes from snow glare.
- Try studded outdoor walking shoes - These give you extra traction on slippery surfaces. Lightweight hiking boots are a good option too but stay away from heavy boots that are geared for climbing.
- Don't layer your socks - There's a good chance you'll get blisters that way. Instead, wear thin socks designed to keep feet warm.
Warm weather tips
- Bring plenty of water with you. The more overweight you are, the more you’ll sweat and as you sweat you lose lots of fluids. It is extremely important that you stay hydrated.
- Stay hydrated by drinking 8 ounces of water before you begin your walk.
- Drink small amounts of water often instead of guzzling down a whole bottle all at once. 60% of your body is made up of water.
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your body begins to lack fluid before you feel the sensation of thirst.
- Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are very serious so if you get a headache or feel dizzy then stop walking immediately, have a rest, a drink and cool down.
- A hat is essential and as the hole in the ozone layer gets wider you should also protect your eyes with sunglasses that block out UVA and UV rays.
- Wear clothes that are light colored as this helps to reflect the sun’s heat.
- Ideally wear a fabric that wicks away moisture from your skin to the outside of the material, where it will evaporate.
- Women benefit from wearing sports bras made from wicking material, these help to relieve that sweaty bosom feeling.
- Don’t wear tight clothing - go for a loose top and shorts, or light weight trousers and a cool long sleeved shirt to protect you even more from the sun's rays.
- Try not to walk at the hottest part of the day around noon, try taking early morning walks or evening walks.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen; wear SPF 15 or above.
Squeezing it into you schedule
Busy, busy, busy. Everyone is fighting the time crunch these days, and in the rush to fit in the rest of our lives, our workouts often get the short shift. Don’t let your exercise routine fall to the bottom of your priority list making time for exercise is not as difficult as it seems. When you break down your day you will be surprised at how much physical activity you can fit in even if it just means 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
Tricks of the trade
- Put it on paper. When you have a dentist appointment, you write it in your planner. It’s the same with business meetings. Why not schedule a time for your workout? Put it in your planner and stick to that time slot.
- Look for small blocks of time. You don’t need 60 or 90 minutes to get a good workout. A simple fitness routine can take as little as 15 minutes. Search your daily routine for small periods of downtime, and then make them count.
- Early bird workouts. Set the alarm one hour earlier and go for a walk. It may take a while to become accustomed to the new schedule, but you may discover that early morning workouts compliment your schedule the best.
- Walk ‘round the block. Sometimes the best time to exercise is at some after work. Taking a walk around the neighborhood is convenient and inexpensive, when compared to the time and money put into a gym membership.
- Lunch ‘n burn. Instead of using your entire lunch hour to eat, try splitting the time you have to squeeze in a quick walk. Not only do you get the added benefits of exercise, you may also be more energized for the afternoon ahead.
- Take the scenic route. Whether it’s to the restroom, water cooler, or copy machine, take the longest way possible to get there—even if it means going to another floor.
- Walk it out. Rather than holding a sit down meeting or brainstorming session, try having it over a walk. You may find that being on your feet can stimulate good ideas.
- Every bit counts. Climb the stairs to that meeting instead of taking the elevator, park your car farther than you normally would and walk the extra distance (mi), or walk down the hall to talk to colleagues instead of calling them on the phone. It all adds up.
One of the greatest features of walking is that it’s a perfect activity for large numbers of people to participate in together. Plus, contrary to so many mass-participation activities, walking involves very little individual athletic effort. Because of this convenience, numerous associations and organizations, both local and national, have used walking as a central activity to get the public involved in their campaigns. Find out if any of these walkathons are coming to your community, and tell your wellness coordinator that you’re interested in participating. Not only is it good exercise, but it’s also a great way to support a variety of important efforts and associations.
It’s a group thing
Walking solo is always an option, but sometimes working out in a group can add some fun. Try the following suggestions to include others in your walking routine.
- Walk with your dog - your pet can be great company while you workout.
- Walk with family - walking is a great activity that can involve all family members.
- Walk with friends - a lot of people have tennis buddies, so why not have a walking buddy?
- Instead of scheduling weekend tennis matches, you can set aside time for a walk around the neighborhood or park.
- Walk with co-workers - if you walk during your lunch hour, coffee break ask a co-worker to come with you.
- You may even find that a walk contributes to a great brainstorming session.
Maintaining your program
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the program! But before you box up your walking shoes, think about this: To maintain the health benefits you’ve gained you must keep up with your exercise routine. Here are some pointers to consider when continuing physical activity.
Develop an appetite for walking
If you’re hungry for more walking you might want to consider getting in touch with your local community members. There are often individuals in your community seeking a walking partner. Not only can this satisfy your need for more physical activity, but it can also provide the opportunity to meet new people, who share the same interest in physical activity as you do.
Upgrade your walk
- Step it up. Whether or not you have reached your initial goals, at this point you should evaluate your progress. If you have met your goals it’s time for a new challenge - this may involve walking a greater distance (mi) or being active for a longer time. If you haven’t met your goals don’t let this discourage you. You should meet these goals before you look to bigger hurdles.
- Have fun. One of the most important elements to an exercise routine is the “fun factor.” If your workout involves something you enjoy, the more likely you’ll stick with it.
- Add variety. Introduce variety into your exercise routine a membership to a gym or buying videotapes can supplement your current exercise program. However, a monotonous program can get old quickly.
- Keep in touch. Follow-up evaluations are important to maintaining your exercise routine. Set up meetings on a regular basis to touch base with your program coordinator. You can share your accomplishments and receive encouragement that could be helpful for sticking with it.
- Recognize accomplishments. Although you won’t have the constant incentives from your program coordinator, you can always reward yourself. Also, don’t forget to give yourself the recognition you deserve when you’ve accomplished your goals—go ahead and brag to your family and friends.
- Attitude is everything. If you think negatively about yourself or your routine, you’re likely to go nowhere fast. Keeping a positive outlook can help you overcome obstacles and ultimately achieve your goal.
- Become a role model. Encourage others to join you in your efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle. People are more likely to start a program that has documented success. Sharing your achievements may be the motivation they need to get started.
Diabetes care when walking
Diabetes related tips
- Although walking is generally safe for everyone, if you plan to walk faster than you normally do, you may need a check-up. Always consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program. Your doctor may recommend that you have an exercise stress test to rule out cardiovascular issues, especially if your diabetes has not been well controlled for a while, you’re older, or you have a number of heart disease risk factors (like hypertension, family history, or smoking).
- Wear your diabetes I.D. or bring it with you whenever you walk.
- Starting a walking plan may cause you to need less insulin or diabetes pills. Activity can lower blood glucose and weight. Both of these may lower how much insulin or diabetes pills you need to take.
- Check your blood glucose before exercise. If it’s too low (generally under 80 mg/dL), have a small snack like a piece of fruit, a few crackers, or glass of milk before you start your walk.
- Learn how to prevent and treat low blood glucose (sugar) levels (hypoglycemia). If you take oral agents or insulin, monitor your blood glucose level before, during, and after exercise.
- Check your blood glucose after exercise to learn how your blood glucose reacts to becoming more active. If you take diabetes medicines and your blood glucose often gets too low, ask your doctor about lowering your doses.
- Be ready to treat a low blood glucose. Whenever you are out walking, carry some readily-absorbed carbohydrates (like glucose tablets or gels) and other supplies to treat and prevent hypoglycemia, if you to need to.
- Carry a snack to eat if you’ll be active for a few hours, along with some water to stay hydrated.
- Discuss with your doctor any unusual symptoms that you experience during or after exercise.
- If you have diabetes-related complications, check with your diabetes care team about special precautions.
- If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood glucose is above 250 mg/dl, check your urine for ketones. Don’t exercise if moderate or higher levels of ketones are present.
- Always warm up and cool down by doing at least 3-5 minutes of slower walking before you start doing a faster walking pace.
- Pay special attention to proper footwear, and make sure you have appropriate walking shoes. Inspect your feet daily and always after you exercise to catch problems early.