Fitness Articles

Walking Safety Tips

Getting Off To a Good Start

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If you are new to exercise, here are some important health and safety tips so you can start your walking program off on the right foot.
  • Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. He or she may require that you have a physical exam or give you special instructions based on your medical history.
     
  • Don't overdo it, especially if you are a beginner. Let your body adjust to the new activity, gradually increasing the duration and frequency of your workouts.
     
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Not every shoe offers the stability and cushioning you need to walk.
     
  • For the first few weeks, do not push too hard. Your breathing should be elevated, but you should not be gasping for air. Use the Talk Test to know if you're walking at the right intensity level: If you cannot answer a question, you are walking too fast. If you can have a full conversation, you are walking too slowly.
     
  • Walking shouldn't hurt. If you experience any kind of muscle, joint, chest or head pain, see your family physician right away.
     
  • Wear a watch so you can monitor the time spent walking. Set small goals to gradually increase the amount of time you walk each week. You can also wear a pedometer to keep track of distance and steps, which can be a big motivator to keep going! For more information about choosing and using a pedometer, click here. Continued ›
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • JICAMA19
    I have been walking for a number of years and I live in a pretty safe town in Massachusetts .i walk up to 3-5 miles per week and I am always looking around as I walk., I have had some close calls a few times. I like the idea about carrying a whistle and mace, but when I I went to the police station to renew my mace certificate, they give me a hard way to go. So I walk with my phone. That was almost 20 years ago, maybe I will go back to the police station and try again. - 7/27/2014 10:07:51 PM
  • When I walk outside I text my husband at the beginning, midpoint, and end of my journey. Sometimes I send pics which is fun, and I let him know what I am wearing. It's also good to find out where registered sex offenders are living in your area so that you can avoid those streets. - 6/25/2013 12:36:41 PM
  • I take pepper spray, I hate to have to carry a bunch of stuff, but my phone goes too. Just can't be too sure these days.... - 6/10/2013 8:38:28 AM
  • I wear one earplug in one out....works for me. - 4/16/2013 5:04:45 AM
  • How do you listen to walking music if you shouldn't wear headphones? - 11/7/2012 9:27:41 AM
  • I once was walking during my lunch break on a nice sunny day. A car slowed pulled beside me with a very polite gentleman looking for directions to the court house. After I gave him the directions he appeared to be very confused and asked to borrower my cell phone. I lied and said I didn't have on me.Then the man asked me to get in the car so that I can show him the way to the court house because he didn't know the area. After repeatly saying no, he finally drove away. It was really scary!

    So you never can be too careful because stuff like this happens in braod daylight! A cell phone and pepper spray is always good to have on hand. - 6/11/2012 10:55:50 AM
  • I take my husband to the park with me. He watches me to make sure I'm OK and walks the warm up and cool down with me to pace me. - 5/26/2012 7:51:44 AM
  • I run & ride my bike in the woods. I need to be able to hear everything. More than once I've heard something, well before I've seen it. As a woman, alone in a secluded area, you can never be too careful. - 5/16/2012 5:53:18 PM
  • When I cross a street I make eye contact with the driver making sure he/she sees me before crossing in front of them. - 5/2/2012 10:21:24 AM
  • MICHELLEMAE1970
    Great article. The pedometer actually does keep me motivated. But I do wear my headphones but keep volume low so I can hear what's going on.

    I also have pepper spray now because in my walking I've come across coyotes but they are usually alone. I've also seen deer, possum, skunks, raccoons, lots of bunnies. And I live in the suburbs!! - 4/15/2012 9:41:54 AM
  • HEIDISO
    Thanks for the tips. Although most of these tips are for people walking in a city setting. I live in a very rural area. I rarely see people or cars on my walks so no need for mace/pepper spray, it would just piss off the bears & wolves. LOL - 2/1/2010 2:18:20 PM
  • Thanks for the warning of taking a cell phone, etc. My dd runs in our "nice" neighborhood, but she has a WHISTLE, mace and a C.P. I often go with her and ride my bike. We checked on-line and found that "registered offenders" live within 2 miles of us, and we live in a "nice" area. - 11/9/2008 2:27:37 PM
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