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Just Try Walking!

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 0 views
by Dr. Stacey Rosenberg

While some fitness enthusiasts relentlessly seek out the latest, trendiest exercise crazes, many others are returning to good, old-fashioned walking to help them feel great and get into shape! Whether enjoying the wonder of nature, the company of a friend, while pregnant or with your baby, walking can be a healthy, invigorating experience. And thanks to its convenience and simplicity, walking just might be right for you too!

Benefits

You don't need to become a member of an expensive gym to go walking. And except for a good pair of walking shoes, it requires virtually no equipment. Research shows that regular exercise improves mood, enhances well-being, reduces stress, and contributes to a heavier, healthier baby and on-time delivery. Regular exercise prevents excessive weight-gain, can help prevent gestational diabetes and helps build the stamina needed for labour and delivery. A sedentary lifestyle has debilitating influence on people's health when pregnant as well as they age. Exercise is imperative or as the old saying goes: *if you don't use it, you lose it!* Walking accomplishes all of the following and more:

  • Improves cardiovascular endurance
  • Tones muscles of the lower body
  • Burns calories: about 80 if walking 2 miles per hour, and about 107 if walking 4 miles per hour

Shoes

The first item of business when beginning your walking program is selecting the right pair of shoes. I recommend the following tips: Make sure the shoes you purchase fit properly. The balls of your feet should rest exactly at the point where the toe end of the shoe bends during walking. Avoid high-top shoes that often cover the entire ankle, limiting your foot's ability to move freely and naturally. Opt instead for shoes that offer your ankle a fuller range of motion. Select shoes with plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb the impact of your walking. If you suffer from excessive pronation, fallen arches or other biomechanical problems with your feet, consider getting custom-made orthotic supports. Pregnancy can make the arches stretch and drop more from the effects of the hormone Relaxin, as well as from the weight gain and altered biomechanics (the classic 'pregnancy waddle') so it is extra important to ensure you are wearing proper, supportive footwear when you are exercising while pregnant.

Getting Started

Walking just 12 minutes every other day can offer important health benefits. Walking 20 minutes every other day is even better. In order to increase your longevity, try to eventually work up to 30 minutes, five days per week. The following tips should help you get started safely and smoothly:

  • Move your arms freely, in coordination with the opposite leg.
  • Don't stoop your head or look down as you walk. This will challenge the normal forward curve of your neck, which, in turn, will cause you to carry your weight improperly.
  • Don't carry weights or dumbbells while walking. They're better used as a separate part of your exercise regimen. If you do carry weights while walking, be sure that they are light enough that they do not interfere with the "rhythm" of your arms and legs; in order to counterbalance the body, when your right arm moves forward, the left leg should be moving forward, etc.
  • Expect a little soreness in the thighs and calves for the first week or two. If you experience more than minor soreness, check with your Doctor of Chiropractic.
  • Walk briskly, with "purpose." Simply "sauntering," while relaxing and enjoyable, is not an effective form of cardiovascular exercise.

Keep in mind that, if you have not previously been physically active, you should consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, especially when pregnant. Begin slowly with a walk of perhaps half of a mile at a pace that does not cause discomfort. Continue this for about two weeks, then start to increase the pace and length of time walking. Eventually - depending on your age - you can build your "target" heart rate/pulse to either 120 beats per minute or, if younger, as many as 140 beats per minute. For the average adult, a heart rate of 120 beats per minute would require walking at about 2 miles per hour, while a heart rate of 140 beats per minute would require a pace of 4 miles per hour.

More Pregnancy Exercise Tips

  • Don't exercise for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
  • Always include a warm-up and a cool-down period (in addition to the 30 minutes of exercise).
  • Avoid forced, passive stretches, such as reaching for your toes or doing hamstring stretches.Pregnancy hormones make your joints looser, so overstretching which can cause a muscle injury is a greater risk during pregnancy. Also, avoid sudden jerking or bouncing movements or quick changes in position.
  • Limit aerobic activity to the low-impact variety, especially if you weren't exercising regularly before getting pregnant. Brisk walking, swimming, and riding a stationary bicycle are good choices.
  • Measure your heart rate at peak activity to be sure you are not exceeding 140 beats per minute.
  • Avoid overheating: Drink plenty of water, and don't exercise in hot, humid conditions.
  • Avoid activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as horseback riding or downhill skiing.
  • Avoid sports in which you could get hit in the abdomen.
  • Especially after the third month, avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back.
  • Never scuba dive because it can cause dangerous gas bubbles in the baby's circulatory system.
  • And remember; always check with your health care provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy.

Surfaces

Some walking surfaces are better than others on your musculoskeletal system. Walking on a cushioned or rubberized track is ideal, because the cushioning of this type of track absorbs most of the impact of your walking. Many recreation centres offer this type of track free of charge. Grass is another good surface, but watch out for hidden dips or holes in the ground. Walking on a surface with no give, such as concrete or a mall floor, is not your best choice, because this type of surface will not absorb much of the impact your body will experience. If you do choose to walk on such a surface, be extra careful to select highly cushioned shoes.


Strollers

Strollers are great for giving your back a break from carrying your little one - when you use them properly. As you walk behind the stroller, your elbows should be slightly bent, back straight. Imagine a fishing line pulling you up from your sternal notch (the bump on the upper part of your breastbone). This will make your chest come up and your shoulders come down with your chin tucked in. Ideally, your stroller should have adjustable handles so that you, your spouse and other caregivers can easily raise or lower the handles to waist level the optimal position for ergonomic ease. In case you've inherited a stroller with fixed handles that are too low for your comfort, check your favourite baby supply store for handle extenders.

Now that you've nailed the stroller walk, don't blow it by bending over to transfer baby in and out. Instead of hunching your back, kneel on one knee to get down to baby's level, and then straighten your legs to stand up. When you need to free up your arms, front carriers or slings come in handy. As with everything else, just be sure not to overdo as this can cause neck and shoulder strain.

Hydration

Drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day to help keep the kidneys active, dilute and remove toxins from the body, and replace lost fluids. (Coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol are diuretics (dehydrators) - don't substitute them for water, especially when you are pregnant). If you perspire during walking, you may need to drink even more.

Pain and Injury

While you may experience pain or injury in a particular area, such as a knee or a hip, the root of the problem may lie somewhere else. Injuries of this nature are not regional, or isolated, but often systemic. A problem in the foot or ankle can create an imbalance in every step, leading to discomfort or injury that moves to the knees, hips, low back, or elsewhere. If you suffer from pain beyond typical muscle soreness, your Doctor of Chiropractic can diagnose and treat your pain or injury and get you back into the swing of your walking routine.

Your Doctor of Chiropractic can also help customize a pregnancy wellness program that is right for you and has the expertise to help keep you in the mainstream of life.

 

For more information on chiropractic and chiropractic care in pregnancy, contact Dr. Stacey Rosenberg (604) 886-7080 or your local family chiropractor. (References available on request).


www.GibsonsChiropractic.com
www.GibsonsHealthandWellness.com
www.NaturalPregnancyNaturalBaby.com

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