Why I walk
In the middle of 2021, I started showing signs of having a fatty liver. It was almost certainly due to my love of beer. I won’t go into the details of just how much I was drinking, but I decided that it was time to stop for a while.
I would walk my minimum of 5 kilometres and then reward myself with a few beers. Then the fatty liver symptoms started showing up. I decided that either the hiking or the drinking would have to go.
I decided that the drinking would go.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating a tea-total lifestyle. I loved my beer, and still do. The point is that when I made this decision, it was the right choice for me.
By the time I decided to lay off the beer, I had already started my walking plan of 5 kilometres a day. No one was more surprised than I when I was able to make good on my determination to remain beer-free. And, it wasn’t long before I felt the benefits of the combination of exercise and abstinence. Slowly but surely, the fatty liver symptoms diminished. And today, I am completely clear of them.
Deciding on a plan
Deciding on a plan depends very much on your state of health. I am 69 years of age. I have bad knees and ankles due to a series of motorcycle accidents in my 20s. Since then, I have broken most of my toes and several fingers. I have also broken my nose at least three times. However, I don’t think that affects my walking.
I suggest setting a minimum of 5 kilometres (3 miles) a day. If you can do more, do more. But, try to keep up the minimum. It is better to aim low and build up, rather than aim high and stop because you get discouraged.
Incidentally, while I try to keep up a minimum of 5 kilometres a day, I also try to get in one good cross country hike a week.
Keep a record
I use a smartphone and watch to record my efforts. You can also keep a hard copy record in a notebook or diary. I have also been able to find a route which is just over 5 kilometres and it is on my way into the shopping centre. I can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Get my exercise in and do the shopping at the same time.
If you live near a park, see if it has a measured track. Do as many circuits as you feel comfortable doing. If you get tired, stop! And, if you wake up tired, then have a day off. The entire point in all this is to make yourself feel better, not worse.
And don’t forget to weigh yourself once a week! Weight loss is another good indication of progress.
Footwear and Equipment
Good shoes are a must. I require ankle support, which can come from both the shoes and braces.
I also use a set of trekking poles. I find that the support they offer reduces fatigue. On this point, you might want to take a look at Nordic Pole Walking. There are numerous YouTube presentations on the subject and this is just one of them. I have also posted a report on my personal use of trekking poles which you may find useful. You can see it here.
A water bottle, because you need to stay hydrated. A little bit of experience will tell you how much water you need to carry. I always err on the side of caution. There is nothing worse than getting thirsty and this has ruined more than a few, otherwise enjoyable hikes.
Pain is a good indicator that you are doing something wrong. Someone once asked Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Does anything actually hurt you?”
“Only pain.” He replied.
Pain tells us that it is time to stop. Apart from the fact that it ruins any enjoyment you might be having, it is an indication that something isn’t right.
I made an error choosing my footwear for a recent hike. I was annoyed, and at the same time pleased. I called a halt to my walk. Not because I was exhausted but because my feet were killing me. It was an indication that my training was beginning to show results. I was getting fitter!
I hope this has encouraged to you to try walking for health. The general feeling of well-being you will soon experience is worth the effort. You will soon find that you will lose weight naturally and the combination of weight loss and increased fitness will become evident.
I wish you all the best in your efforts. And, if you would like to learn more about my hiking exploits, past and present, please visit Stewart Goes Walkies.
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