Brisk-walk to good health
With the Government’s recent injection of resources, one shouldn’t ignore the benefits of brisk-walking.
BY: Eleanor Yap
With the Government investing $1.9 million in a three-year programme to improve brisk-walking clubs and to set up more such clubs, seniors should consider this activity. Currently, the five CDCs run 391 brisk-walking clubs with some 80,000 members and the aim is to increase it to 620 clubs and 100,000 members. Brisk-walking is suitable for everyone. It is the safest physical activity, it can be done anywhere and anytime, and it requires very little equipment besides comfortable clothes and a good pair of walking shoes.
As Minister Lim Boon Heng from the Prime Minister’s Office and deputy chairman of People’s Association said during the launch of the National Brisk-Walking Clubs and the announcement of the resources, “North West CDC shared with me a short story: Five years ago, Mdm Catherine Ang, a housewife (42 years of age) with two teenagers, was shocked to discover that she had cancer. While she was recovering, her mother, Mdm Goh, invited her to join a brisk-walking club. Her family also started to walk regularly with Mdm Ang. Today, Mdm Ang walks with her extended family, including her mother, husband, children and sister-in-law. Her health has also improved and stabilised.”
Wonders of brisk-walking
According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), regular brisk-walking can do wonders. It can improve your stamina and fitness, lower your blood pressure and blood cholesterol, burn off excess calories and help you manage your weight, relieve stress and anxiety, help you get better rest and sleep, and give you renewed confidence. What’s more, it is a great way to meet new friends (if you are joining a brisk-walking club) and get other family members to join you!
The ideal is brisk-walk for 30 minutes a day, on five days a week. If time is an issue or if you are new at brisk-walking, consider doing three segments of 10 minutes each to add up to 30 minutes. When brisk-walking, your goal is to get your heart rate to at least 70% to 80%. If you have a medical condition, do seek your doctor’s advice before proceeding with the exercise.
So how do you do it? It may be straightforward but there is a proper technique. Walk at a steady pace that is brisk enough to make your heart beat faster. HPB advises that before you start brisk-walking, be sure to warm-up as this prepares your body for the physical activity and reduces the risk of injury. Also don’t forget to cool-down after brisk-walking such as stretching exercises so to allow your heart to return to its resting state slowly.
Besides all this, another important aspect of brisk-walking is getting the right shoes. This is essential as the wrong shoes can cause discomfort or even injuries. Here’s some advice from HPB:
- Insole and midsole – Should be well-cushioned to absorb shocks.
- Outsole – Should be tough to resist impact and patterned to provide traction.
- Uppers – Sturdy yet soft and flexible enough to bend with the foot.
- Toe box – Should be high enough to allow free movement and allow a space of about 1.5cm between the toes and the shoe front.
- Heel counter – Should fit closely for stability.
- Arch support – Soles should be flexible at the ball of the feet but not in the middle as the arch will need to have sufficient and comfortable support.
Remember when shopping for shoes, do it in the late afternoon when your feet are slightly larger. Make sure you get shoes that are meant for walking only as the others such as for tennis or running are designed differently. Try both shoes on fully laced and walk around with the shoes to check for comfort. Also, get socks that are made of cotton, shaped to fit the feet and are seamless to prevent blisters.
Now that the feet are taken care of, make sure you are dressed right for the walk. It should be loose, light and comfortable clothing so it allows for greater movement and absorbs perspiration. While you are out, do not forget your sunblock lotion, sunglasses and cap. Make sure you also pack a bottle of water if you dehydrated.
It is time to brisk-walk, so what are you waiting for?
** If you prefer to do it with other people, consider joining a brisk-walking group. The five CDCs have their own groups – Central Singapore CDC – Healthy Lifestyle Clubs (www.centralsingaporecdc.org.sg), North East CDC – Brisk Walking Clubs at North East (www.northeastcdc.org.sg), North West CDC – North West Brisk Walking Club (www.northwestcdc.org.sg), South East – Team South East Brisk Walking Club (www.southeastcdc.org.sg), and South West – Fun Walkers @ South West (www.southwestcdc.org.sg).
(PHOTO CREDIT: HPB)