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THE KAWARTHA LAKES GREEN TRAILS ALLIANCE 

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Walking

Someone once said, "Walking is easy. Easier, in fact, than standing on your head. As long as the same leg isn't used twice in succession, nothing much can go wrong." They were right on that one. Walking is a gentle activity. Set your own pace, and you can walk comfortably with little risk of injury. It's a great activity for people of all ages and abilities. It's so accessible, too. With a good pair of shoes and clothing to suit the weather, you can head out the door. Walking is pleasurable, relaxing, and good for you, too! Regular walking will strengthen your heart and lungs, improve circulation, assist with weight control, tone your muscles, and keep your bones strong. Get into the habit of walking and you'll soon look better and feel better about yourself. Given all of this, no wonder walking is so popular. In the Campbell Survey on Well-Being in Canada, walking ranked first among all activities - pursued by more than 60 percent of Canadians. While walking is the simplest of all activities, there are still some things to remember. Be sure to... Dress for the weather. Wear layers of comfortable clothing that won't restrict movement. Soft fabrics like breathable nylon are best. Wool's great for cold weather. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sun screen on bright days. Treat your feet. Good, inexpensive running shoes are great for walking. Look for ones with a wide toe box and lots of flexibility under the forefoot. They should feel comfortable as soon as you try them on - not too wobbly, not too stiff. Stretch and strengthen. Do mobility exercises for the ankles and gentle strengthening exercises for the muscles in the lower leg. This is especially important for older adults, as strength and flexibility tend to decrease with advancing age. Set a good pace when you're ready for it. A brisk walk is better than a casual stroll if you want to improve your cardiovascular health. Window shopping doesn't do it either. Gradually extend the length of your walks and go a little faster. Do what comes naturally. Your walking style should feel natural and right for you. Colin Fletcher, in The Complete Walker III, says rhythm's the thing. This means a stride length and speed that are easy, unbroken, and comfortable. Suit yourself. Pick walking times that suit your routine and schedule. "Utility walking" can cover a lot of ground. Do errands on foot. Walk part way (or all of the way) to and from work or school. (Source: Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Institute - www.cflri.ca)