The Running Doctor: Walking a great prescription for health

At this present time with Covid-19 in our life, walking for exercise as a physical activity is the best choice for now. It is good for a decrease in anxiety, depression, as well as many other benefits. When we exercise we release the bodies endorphins which are chemicals that produce naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain, stress, and depression. They are referred to as feeling-good chemicals as they can act as a happiness booster, and pain reliever.

However, unlike jogging, there are fewer injuries to the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back in this sport. Many walk for their own benefits and others are walking for charitable causes.

The potential benefits to a regular walking program include lower blood pressure, a reduction in stress and arthritic pain, and an improvement in circulation.

To have fun in your walking program and reach your exercise goals, it is important to wear the proper shoes, as the feet are the gatekeepers to the lower extremities. Many individuals who take up walking programs have a tendency to overpronate, meaning the body weight rolls off the inner arch instead of going through the entire foot and rolling off the ends of the toes. This is an inefficient way to use your feet and can cause foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain.

Neglected, these foot dysfunctions can lead to structural defects. An orthotic device (insert into shoe) will redistribute your weight and help you walk more naturally.

It is also important to warm-up and warm down before and after exercise, as well as pacing yourself into a regular walking routine. It is much wiser to start off slowly — to let the working muscles receive the blood flow for all out walking, moving the arms with the legs efficiently.

Go slow, have fun and remember that walking is a great prescription for health, and stay well!

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. DR. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons. more information go to