Walking for good health: how to buy the right equipment

Although runners may scoff at walking, saying that it doesn't burn enough calories, research has shown time and time again that a regular walking program has just as beneficial an effect on your waistline. Here's how to start your own.

Walking for good health: how to buy the right equipment

And as is clearly documented, people are far more likely to stick with a walking rather than a running regimen. Here are some tips on how to select the right gear to get started with walking.

Buying walking shoes

A good pair of walking shoes will help you to travel farther and faster with more comfort.

Hit the mall

  • Go to a respected sports store so that a skilled salesperson can measure your feet and find the best shoe for your foot shape and size.
  • Tell the salesperson what type of terrain you'll be walking on and how many kilometres on average you plan to walk a week.
  • If you have an old pair of runners, bring them to the store with you.
  • The salesperson can look at the wear pattern on your shoes to determine your foot type.
  • For example, if the inner heel is more worn than the outer heel, your foot probably turns in excessively as you walk.
  • In this case, you'll want some extra arch support and a shoe designed for "motion control."

What to look for

  • Try on your shoes and walk around the store.
  • Make sure the shoe hugs your heel; your heel should not slide up and down as you walk.
  • The shoe should also have a firm arch support and the forefoot of the shoe should bend with the natural bend in your foot.
  • Most important, the shoes should feel comfortable when you walk.
  • A good walking shoe lasts about 560 kilometres (350 miles). If you walk 16 kilometres (10 miles) a week, that's about eight months.

Using walking poles

These lightweight walking poles sold at many sports stores can help you feel more steady and safe when walking on rough ground.

  • The poles encourage you to bend your elbows and use your arms as you walk, which will prevent swelling in your hands.
  • The movement also provides a great upper-body and lower-body workout, which burns more calories as well as strengthening your muscles.
  • Finally, the poles take stress off your knees.
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