WALKING ACTIVITY CARD
Parts of the Body Worked
Upper & Lower Legs
Knees & Ankles
Hips & Butts
Walking means more than transportation.
Shoes are the most important part of your walking gear. Good walking shoes are generally flat, but flexible, so your foot rolls with each step. They should fit well, but leave enough room for your feet to spread out while walking. Wear socks that are comfortable. Try socks made of cotton or other sweat-wicking materials—they will keep your feet drier and help prevent blisters. Running shoes are okay to use for walking. Don't forget to trade in the old shoes when the treads start wearing out—which is about 500 miles. Whew!
Wear comfortable clothing when walking. Try to dress in layers, so you can always take off something as you warm up. Layering with a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or windproof jacket is a good idea if it's windy or chilly outside.
Two other essentials: sunscreen and a hat. The sunscreen protects your skin from the sun. In the summer, a hat keeps the sun out of your face, and in the winter it helps to keep you warm by trapping the heat that is lost from the top of your head. A bright colored hat will also make it easy for drivers to see and avoid you. Need to learn more about sun protection? Read here for more info!
Play it Safe
Before you walk out the door, talk about the best walking routes with your parents so you know your safety zones and how to avoid traffic. And, only walk in those areas so your parents will know where you are.
It's always best to walk where you can avoid traffic—like parks or even the mall! Or try to find an area where there are sidewalks. If you have to walk on a street without sidewalks, walk close to the curb facing traffic. Remember to cross the street only at marked crosswalks or at corners, keep your ears and eyes open, and watch out for traffic in front and back of you. Wear bright-colored clothing or reflectors so drivers can see you. If you are walking alone, don't wear headphones—if they are too loud, they can keep you from hearing any oncoming traffic.
Water, water, water. It's a good idea to drink some water before you head out to walk, while you are walking, and when you get back—even if it's cold outside or you don't feel thirsty. In the summer, late afternoons (not nights) and mornings are the best times to walk to avoid the midday heat and humidity. To find out more about staying cool, click here.
It is best to warm up your muscles before stretching them. So warm up for 5 minutes at an easy walking pace before stretching. Then stretch by starting at the top of your body and working your way down. Make sure to cool down and stretch after your walk too!
Remember—start out slowly and gradually increase the speed and distance you walk—don't try walking a marathon your first time out! And no matter where you are walking, be aware of what is going on around you.
How to Play
You've probably been walking for about as long as you've been talking. But walking isn't just a way to get from here to there, its also a great physical activity! Walking doesn't require a lot of equipment, you can do it anywhere, it is always available by just walking out your front door, and it's a great way to relax and refresh. It's also something you can do alone or with your friends and family.
If you thought walking was just putting one foot in front of the other, you were right! But check out these tips for how to walk and breathe correctly so your walk will be safer and easier.
Posture. How you hold your body is important. Stand up straight and tall. This means putting your shoulders back and relaxing them (no slouching!), and keeping your chin up and stomach in. It's a good idea to look 20 feet ahead—about the lengths of two cars. This keeps your chin up and your eyes on your path!
Taking your first steps. Start out your first step with the heel first. Then roll your foot from heel to toe and push off the toes with the next step. Bringing the opposite leg forward, repeat this again. (This may feel a little funny at first but as your muscles get stronger it gets easier.)
Arm motion. Moving or swinging your arms when you're walking can give you power and it balances what your legs are doing! Bend your elbow 90 degrees (so your arm looks like the letter "L"), while keeping your hands slightly curled. When you step, one foot moves forward and the arm opposite this foot should come forward too. As your foot goes back, bring back the opposite arm with it. Keep your elbows close to the body so you don't have "chicken wings."
Don't forget to breathe! Your breathing should have a rhythm. Inhale one deep breath for four steps and then hold that breath for two steps. Then exhale to the count of four steps, and hold it for two steps before beginning all over again. So the rhythm is — breathe in (step 1, 2, 3, 4), hold (step 1, 2) breathe out (step 1, 2, 3, 4) hold (step 1, 2).
Everyone's stride is different, so if you feel that four steps are too long or too short, adjust it to what is comfortable for you.
We don't give a second thought to walking and breathing at the same time, but some ancient creatures, and some that are still around (like lizards), can't do both at once. Lizards have to pause when they're running in order to take breaths.
If you walk 6,000 steps each day, you will walk a mile!
Racewalking has been an Olympic sport since 1908. It is the longest foot race (31 miles!) in the Olympics.
The distance to the sun is 93.5 million miles. If you walk about 4 miles every hour (which is fairly fast) it would take you 23.4 million hours, which is 974,000 days or 2,670 years to reach the sun!
- Division of Population Health/School Health Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Atlanta, GA 30341
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