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A guide to walking gear

Regular physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle. Walking has gained popularity in recent years because it’s easy to incorporate into busy lives, and a 30 to 60 minutes walk, three to four times a week, can improve circulation and breathing while conditioning the body. Several other benefits include: reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved overall quality of life, helps keep bones strong, which can help prevent osteoporosis, helps build strength, flexibility and stamina.

Walking supports health in every sense — physically, mentally and emotionally. It enriches and balances your life and it makes you feel good. Before starting any exercise program, consult with your physician. The American College of Sports Medicine makes the following recommendations for an exercise program (for healthy adults to develop and maintain cardiovascular fitness): exercise 3-5 days per week, exercise at low to moderate intensity, exercise for 30-45 minutes, and warm up and cool down for five to10 minutes.

While walking is one form of exercise that doesn’t require much instruction, it is important to have the right equipment when walking.

Good shoes are essential. Shoes that don’t fit properly are not only uncomfortable, but can lead to injury.

• Shop in a store that specializes in athletic footwear. Before buying, walk around in the shoes for at least a few minutes in the store. The heel should fit snugly and you should have room to wiggle your toes.

• Shop at the end of the day, when your feet are the largest.

• Wear your usual walking socks when trying on shoes.

• Don’t shop when you’re in a hurry. It’s worth the effort to take the time to find the right shoe for you.

• Wear your shoes in the house for a few days to try them out. Don’t venture outdoors until you are sure the shoes will work for you.

Next to shoes, your socks are one of the key essentials of walking gear. A lousy pair of socks can make a great pair of shoes feel awful. If your feet feel tired after walking on pavement, look for padded socks. Some socks are specifically designed for walking, with extra padding in the ball and heel. As a rule, socks made from synthetic fabrics work well; they keep your feet drier and retain their shape, softness, and resiliency. Some socks are two-layered, with an inner sock of fabric and an outer sock layer. These socks can help prevent blisters by reducing the moisture and the friction that cause them.

Reflective clothing is important in making you visible to others not only at night, but also when walking in the early morning or dusk. You can wear a reflective vest over your clothes.

When you’re walking, you want to be able to swing your arms freely. For this reason, you really shouldn’t carry anything, not even a water bottle or a cassette player. But you may have a few items — your house or car keys, money, medication, or tissues — that you want to keep with you. That’s when a waist pack can come in handy. Some waist packs are designed to accommodate water bottles.

Drink plenty of water when you walk. Thirst often doesn’t catch up with your body’s need for water. The best way to carry a water bottle is in a waist pack. Some waist packs have a handy external bottle holder so you can get to your water quickly.

A basic pedometer provides a step count and distance walked. A pedometer works by counting the number of steps you take, ticking off a step every time you move your leg.

Your skin needs protection to prevent sunburn and skin cancer.

• Apply the sunscreen a half-hour before you walk so it can absorb into the skin to start its protection.

• Choose a waterproof sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.

• Reapply sunscreen if you have been sweating or are out for a longer duration.

• Protect your lips with lip sunscreen.


May 20 _ 4 p.m., 4-H Sailing project.

May 21 — 2 p.m., 4-H Rabbit project.

May 21 — 3:30 p.m., 4-H Turkey project.

May 21 — 4:15 p.m., 4-H Poultry project.

May 24 — 7 p.m., 4-H Swine project.

May 25 — 6 p.m., Archuleta County Democrats.

May 26 — 3:30 p.m., 4-H Sportsfishing project.

May 26 — 6 p.m., Red Ryder Rodeo Royalty meeting.