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Preparing for the Open Age Mile

Some walk, run or ride daily. For others, this may be the start of a new journey.

1st Training Session is this Friday, 7th August 11:30am. Email to join!

Jade Dalton from the Open Age Physical Activity Team shares some tips on "How to start your walking journey".

If you are reading this, I’ll assume that you are keen to embark on your walking journey, whether that be to join our community in walking the Open Age Mile, for health benefits or any other reason so firstly, well done for taking the first step! Unfortunately, there is no set formula that will work for everyone but hopefully this article will give you some ideas to help get you started.

A lack of motivation is one of the main reasons people don’t walk more often. Deciding what motivates you to walk will often result in a better adherence to your walking programme.

1. Do you prefer to walk with others from your household/bubble or go it alone?

2. Do you prefer to walk for a purpose such as going to a shop?

3. Do you prefer to be spontaneous with your routes or is a pre-planned walk to explore new areas a safer bet?

The time of day you plan your walk is also important so you can start to build it into your regular routine. It’s always advisable to walk when it’s light, particularly if you are walking on your own and to choose a route that isn’t likely to be crowded.  

Now you’ve started to plan the ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘who with’, let’s look at prepping for the walk. Firstly, it’s important to choose footwear which is both supportive and comfortable. For most, this could be a pair of trainers however if you don’t find trainers comfortable or don’t have a pair to hand, then choose a pair of shoes that provide you with adequate support and comfort.

To reduce unnecessary stress and strain on your joints and muscles, it’s important to work towards walking with the correct technique.

1. Posture – Try to stand up straight with your chin parallel to the ground.

2. Arm motion – Think of your arms as a pendulum. Swing one arm forwards as you step the opposite foot forwards.

3. Foot motion – Try to strike the ground with your heel first, then place the ball of your foot down so you can push off with your toes. Flexible shoes will aid this movement. If you’re feet are ‘slapping’ down rather than rolling from heel to toe you may need shoes less stiff.

4. Walking stride – Find a stride length which works for you. Short strides may cause you to shuffle and not allow time for you to pick your feet up to clear any potential obstacles, whereas over striding may cause stress to your joints[DB1] . You may wish to use a walking stick or wheeler to aid you whilst walking.

Now we’ve thought about the ‘How’ to walk efficiently, let’s get walking! Find out how far you are able to walk comfortably and that will be your ‘starting point[DB2] ’. Comfortably is the key word. Make sure you don’t overdo it as this may make you less motivated to walk in future. This will differ for everyone so the guidelines below are generalised and should be adapted to suit your own needs. Repeat your ‘starting point’ walk 3-5 days a week (or more frequently if you can). The following week, try to increase your time by 2-5 minutes. Continue to do this each week until you are able to walk 30 minutes comfortably at one time. If you struggle to increase the time one week, then repeat the previous week and then try the increased time the following week.

If you are comfortable walking outside, then aim to walk ‘briskly’ to increase the physical health benefits.

A ’brisk’ walk means your breathing has increased but you can still talk and not yet out of breath!

Often the biggest step is starting. If you are in doubt, try to get outside to walk (even if it’s just down the road and back) and you may change your mind to go for longer. Can guarantee even after a short walk you’ll feel great after!



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Proud to be working with the K+C Foundation through their Covid-19 Appeal. With this support we are able to grow our exciting online programme and telephone groups to connect with even more Open Age members during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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