Warm up, stretch and diet

Advice for keeping your body in perfect walking order

Warm up, stretch and diet

Simple stretches

It’s also a good idea to spend a few minutes warming down after your walk to prevent your muscles tightening up and causing aches and pains. You can do this by stopping the arm movement for the last few minutes of your session. You’ll find your walking pace naturally decreases. Try holding each of these stretches for 30 seconds.

Upper back
Extend your right arm out in front of you and use your left hand to pull it across your chest and in towards your body. Feel the stretch across your upper back and right shoulder blade. Repeat on the left arm.

Calves
Stand with your feet hip-width apart then extend your right foot out behind you and place your heel flat on the floor. Repeat on your left leg.

Hamstrings
Stand with feet hip-width apart and extend your right leg out in front of you. Place your heel on the floor and lean forward over the extended leg as far as feels comfortable, keeping your back straight. Repeat on your left leg.

Quadriceps
Stand with feet together. Lift your right foot towards your buttocks and grasp it with your right hand. Pull the foot as close to your buttocks as feels comfortable while keeping your hips level and pelvis neutral (don’t arch your lower back). Repeat on the left leg.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and then lunge forward with your right foot, bending your knee as close to a right angle as you can manage. Ensure that your knee does not go further than your toes. Repeat on the left leg.

Overhead stretch
Stand up straight and extend both arms straight up over your head. Hold on to your right wrist and extend up and over to your left-hand side. Relax the arms down and repeat on the other side.

What and when to eat
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy, so it’s vital to include them in your diet, especially when you’re exercising. Try to eat about an hour before your walk to give you time to digest. Combining carbs with protein will keep you feeling full for longer. Here are some suggested combinations:
*  Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast; porridge with banana and honey; wholemeal toast with peanut butter.
*  Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich; tuna and wholewheat pasta salad; vegetable soup with a wholemeal roll spread with cottage or low-fat cream cheese.
*  Dinner: Grilled fish with stir-fried vegetables; grilled steak with spinach and salad; roasted vegetables with couscous and goat’s cheese.
*  Snacks: Yoghurt and fruit; glass of milk with a handful of walnuts.
*  If weight loss is your goal, try operating what I call a “carb curfew” — eat no starchy carbs (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes) after 5pm.
Replace them with pulses.

A walk a day keeps the doctor away
If you wish to protect your heart, you have to do more than potter in the garden. The exercise needs to be strenuous. Jogging is not for everyone and a round trip to the gym takes a couple of hours, plus the monthly membership fee is only good value if you visit regularly. The answer is simple: walk. A half-hour purposeful walk five times a week will reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes. It is never too late to start and there are no upper age limits. Start gently. A 15-minute flat walk, four or five times a week. Build the walks up. When you can comfortably walk for half an hour in the park, go further afield. Regular walkers have their own natural gymnasium. There is no membership fee and no treadmill, just some of the finest scenery in the world.

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