(ARA) - Walking is good exercise for anyone, especially for the 70 million Americans with arthritis
. It’s an endurance exercise, which means it strengthens the heart, helps lungs work more efficiently and adds more stamina so individuals do not tire as easily. As a weight-bearing exercise (one that puts full weight on the bones), walking helps strengthen bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Walking also helps control weight, strengthen muscles and helps maintain joint flexibility.
"For the one in three adults and nearly 300,000 children living with arthritis, maintaining an active lifestyle is important because joints become stiff and muscles weaken with inactivity," says Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "As walking strengthens the muscles and tissues surrounding the joints, it helps to better protect those joints and keep them ready for daily activities."
In addition to all the physical benefits, walking brings with it a host of psychological perks. Regular exercise helps people sleep better and combat the depression, stress and fatigue that sometimes accompany arthritis.
Walking is often overlooked as a way to keep fit and flexible because it’s so simple -- most have done it since infancy. The simplicity is part of what makes walking an ideal exercise for many people. People can walk anywhere, anytime and at any level they prefer.
Keep the Arthritis Foundation’s top 10 walking tips in mind as you prepare to step out into the ranks of walkers everywhere:
1. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning a walking program.
2. Wear comfortable, well-fitting, and supportive shoes with flexible and non-sticky soles that absorb shock well.
3. Wear loose, comfortable clothes that "breathe" with you. Dress in layers so you can adjust to the changing temperature as you walk.
4. Walk at your own pace. Everyone has a walking speed that suits them best, so find one that is comfortable for you.
5. Be sure family members know your walking route and approximately how long you’ll be gone.
6. Don’t go too far too fast. Remember that you still get health benefits whether you take three 10-minute walks or one 30-minute walk.
7. Choose flat, firm, level surfaces -- steep grades, uneven ground or stairs could lead to hip, knee or foot pain.
8. Keep it fun! Try listening to music as you walk to add a bounce to your step.
9. Find a partner. Having a regular partner can be a social outlet, a boredom reliever and a commitment reinforcer.
10. Stay motivated by keeping your walks interesting. Change your location, style or speed.
The Arthritis Foundation is making it easy for people to jumpstart their walking program with the Arthritis Walk, a nationwide walk event that raises awareness and funds to fight arthritis, the nation’s number one cause of disability. To participate in an Arthritis Walk in your area, visit www.arthritis.org or call the Arthritis Walk hotline at (877) 232-2898. For a free copy of the Arthritis Today Walking Guide, contact the Arthritis Foundation at (800) 283-7800 or visit their Web site.
Courtesy of ARA Content