Essential Gear and Accessories for Walking
Walking has amazing benefits – it helps you maintain a healthy weight, it strengthens your bones, lifts your mood, and improves your balance and coordination. And for all the benefits it provides, you can do it almost anywhere, and anyone of any fitness level can do it. However, no matter how easy walking is no having the right gear or accessories that can interfere with your work out. Below are some basic, but essential, gear and accessories you should consider when walking.
Because walking is so easy and convenient, it’s easy to assume that clothing doesn’t matter. After all, you see office workers walking at lunch time, wearing tennis shoes with their business suits. If you’re just taking a short walk at lunch, that may be all you need. However, if you are going on a more serious trek, you should consider wearing clothing more appropriate to the exercise that walking is.
Tops and Bottoms You can actually work up a sweat while walking, especially if you are walking outdoors on a hot day. When doing so, make sure that both your top and bottom can effectively wick moisture away from your body. While a cotton t-shirt and shorts may seem like a good idea, they can often retain sweat which not only weighs the clothing down, it can prevent you from cooling down properly.
Even if it costs more, you are better off going with clothing made of polyester microfibre. In cooler weather, you should two or three layers depending on the temperature:
- The base layer should be your normal, moisture-wicking workout wears.
- In the fall, or early spring, the second layer should breathe, but protect you from wind and rain, like a light Gortex jacket.
- In the winter, the second layer should be an insulating layer that will keep you warm without overheating. Clothing made of fleece or wool will add warmth, while also allowing some air flow. For super-cold weather, consider down product.
- The third winter layer should be the item you would use ass the second layer in the fall or spring.
Shoes and Socks
Your shoes are the most important part of your walking ensemble. If they don’t have enough support you can end up with blisters and foot pain. Too much, and you could lose your connection with the ground and trip over your feet. And then there were those fad shoes, that created an uneven surface designed to lift and tone the leg and butt muscles.
You don’t need gimmicky shoes to get a good walk, but you do need shoes that fit comfortably, with a moderate sole, and the arch support you need. If you are not sure what kind of support you need, you can consult with a specialist at a walking store, or talk to an orthopedist. Not everyone gives a lot of thought to socks; but wearing the wrong socks can cause blisters, overheating, and even swelling.
Make sure your socks fit properly, and have a little elastic to help them keep their shape. Like the rest of your clothing, they should also breathe and have moisture-wicking capability. If you are prone to foot swelling, you should consider compression socks, which help push fluid up your legs to prevent swelling.
You can learn more about compression socks from retailers like TommieCooper, at a reliable running or walking store, or from your orthopedist.
Bags and Packs
If you plan to walk outdoors, at the very least you will need your wallet – with ID and your phone, in case you run into trouble or have an accident. You should also carry water, to stay hydrated, and a little money in case you need it. Other bag options include, wet wipes, a mini first aid kit, an emergency whistle, rain protection, and backup clothing. You have several options to choose from, depending on how much you want to carry.
- A Backpack is good for long walks, or when you need to carry additional items. They leave your hands free, but the down side is that they can get heavy. Your backpack should have large, comfortable shoulder straps, and a belly strap for extra support. An external water holder will give you easy access to your water, or you can get an actual hydration backpack with a built in water bladder and straw.
- A waist pack is good for carrying smaller items, like your wallet and keys. Some varieties even have bottle holders. Like the backpack, they keep your hands free, but larger walkers may have trouble finding packs to fit around their waists.
- A neck pouch is great for people who don’t have pockets and only need to carry a few items, like an ID and little money. The downside is that the pouch can bounce, which can be distracting. Also, they are not large enough to carry a water bottle, which means they aren’t entirely hands-free.
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