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#WalkingClub101: The importance of walking and how to step up your workout

Walking Club 101
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 18:18:08-05

Sarah Phinney has been showing you parks and trails across #TampaBay since July through her #WalkingClub series. Now, she's getting frequently asked questions in the Walking Club Facebook group answered.

We're kicking off #WalkingClub101 by going back to the basics! A doctor breaks down the health benefits of walking, how you can take your workout to the next level and why you shouldn't skip stretching!

Why should I get my steps in?

Walking is extremely important, especially as many of us work from home and are camping out at desks (or kitchen tables) for hours on end.

“Some doctors and experts actually compare sitting down for long periods of time to being as dangerous as smoking,” said Dr. Tanuja Sharma, a physician with Tampa General Hospital.

She says prolonged inactivity can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death.

“We know that any type of movement, whether it be walking or something else, can be really healthy to promote and decrease all of those risk factors,” said Sharma.

How can I be more active during the day?

Sharma suggests setting an alarm on your phone for 30-90 minutes. When it goes off, get up and do a quick stretch and a two-minute brisk walk.

“At the end of your day, if you do that and a 10-minute walk during your lunch, that can add to about 20 or 30 minutes of movement and walking,” said Sharma.

How can I get more out of my walk?

If you’re looking to tone your muscles and burn more calories, Sharma recommends adding an incline and going up stairs.

However, you might want to think twice about adding ankle or arm weights to your walk.

“It hasn’t been really promoted for walking because it’s been shown to sometimes imbalance the muscle groups, which can further lead to injuries,” she said.

Walking at a brisk pace is another way to step up your walking game.

“Intervals are great if you want to alternate between brisk and more of a leisure pace, or brisk and jogging,” said Sharma. “That would be a great way to get the heart rate up and burn more calories.”

Why should I stretch before and after my walk?

Sharma says stretching is really important because it will help prevent injury, reduce stiffness and lower back pain, as well as improve circulation and flexibility.

“Doing a little bit of stretching before, and especially after you walk is really important especially if you’re an avid walker who is walking miles a day,” Sharma said.

Walking Club 101: Why it's important to walk

Watch the video above to see examples of stretches that Dr. Sharma recommends.

Get involved in Walking Club!

Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Instagram and Twitter.