Dr Brenda Li Pak Tong
Consultant - Family Medicine, Health & Wellness Centre
Physical activity should be a regular part of your day. Walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into your busy day; it does not cost money, is easy to do, and is ideal for all ages and fitness levels. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. It strengthens muscles, improves endurance, and also gives you an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and take in some fresh air.
We would all like to make the most of our time spent exercising. In order to obtain maximal health benefits, the key to walking is to walk regularly and briskly. It is recommended that you walk at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days or more per week.
Walking should also be at a faster pace than normal - at a brisk pace. As a general guide, you should be aiming for a pace such that when you are walking and talking, you are just out of breath but able to maintain a conversation (the ‘Talk Test’).
Remember everyone’s physical ability is different - if you are a beginner to exercise, start slowly and gradually increase your speed over a period of weeks according to your ability. If you are only able to walk briskly for 5 minutes per day at the beginning that’s fine - don’t overdo it. However, with regular exercise you will notice a change. You will find that your exercise capacity and physical endurance will improve, and you will be able to walk at a faster pace for a longer period of time.
Remember, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, if you experience any aches or pains while exercising, take rest, reduce your intensity and/or see your doctor for further advice. Here are some top walking tips to help you get on your way…
Before starting your walks, ensure you are wearing comfortable shoes and clothing, and are well hydrated, especially in hot weather. Warm up by starting at a slower pace before reaching your maximal exercise capacity/your target intensity. Cool down afterwards by slowly returning to your starting heart rate, and end with gentle stretching. Exercising is always more enjoyable when you can do it with someone else. Whether it be your husband/wife, your child(ren), or a friend, set a regular time and make it a habit. A ‘walking buddy’ helps to pass time and adds motivation especially on those days we ‘just don’t feel like exercising’.
It’s easy to keep active by making walking a habit. If you’re short on time, the recommended 30 minutes of brisk walking can be divided into 3 ten minute walks spread throughout the day. Some ways to include walking into your day:
In your neighborhood, at the beach, or in designated walking areas.
Tracking the days you are walking, the duration of your walks, and the distances you are covering on a calendar or in a notebook will help keep you focused. Setting milestones during your walks and/ or goals for each month (ex increasing from one-half to one then two laps) will help give you motivation to increase your level of fitness. Tracking your weight may also help with motivation! Walking is one of easiest and most economical ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. If you make it part or your daily routine you will feel and see the benefits! Walk regularly, walk briskly…and walk for life!
The Health and Wellness Centre (HWC) offers preventive health packages for all members of the family. Dr Brenda Li Pak Tong is a Consultant in Family Medicine/Generalist and is based within the HWC. If you would like to make an appointment or require further information, please call us on 605-1000, ext : 2029.
Jane and I wanted to thank you so much for the care you and your colleagues took of Jane whist in Mauritius. Everything went well and Prakash did a great job of getting us to your clinic and back over the 6 dialysis days. We had a wonderful holiday and our children and grandchildren plus the other family all enjoyed it enormously. Best wishes to you all
Andrew and Jane Stewart