Dr. Kimberly Eickmeier of Christie Clinic’s Department of Podiatry is participating in a statewide health campaign to fight obesity called “Keep Illinois Walking.” The program, sponsored by the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association, seeks to encourage local residents to start walking as a way to exercise more and lose weight.
Dr. Eickmeier is giving away a free pedometer to any resident who contacts the office for information on how to start a walking program.
“Podiatrists, like all health care professionals, see obesity as a significant public health problem,” said Dr. Eickmeier. “And, we’re doing our part this summer to encourage people to engage in low-impact, calorie burning exercise to stay fit.”
“We think this is an excellent way to not only encourage walking and fitness but to take a few minutes with each patient to stress the importance of foot health in any fitness program,” Dr. Eickmeier said. She pointed out that a 150-pound person walking one mile exerts a force of 63.5 tons on a single foot, making it important not only to select the proper shoe but to make sure your feet are in top condition to stand up to that kind of pounding.
Walking is a gentle, low impact form of exercise that is easy for people of all fitness levels to do. According to research, walking has been associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lower body mass index, and other positive health effects.
According to Dr. Eickmeier, there are six tips to help new walkers develop a safe and effective walking program:
Warm up and cool down.Stretching improves circulation and decreases build up of lactic acid—the chemical by-product that causes muscles to ache.
Choose proper footgear.Buying shoes is the only real expenditure necessary for walking, so do not cut corners on your shoe budget; treat your feet well!
Pay attention to your feet.Changes and/or pain in the feet and ankles are not normal and could indicate a serious foot ailment or circulatory problem.
Walk on soft ground.With age, the natural shock absorbers (or fat padding) in your feet deteriorate, as does bone density, particularly in women. These factors combined make seniors prone to stress fractures. Softer ground is more foot friendly, producing less shock than harder surfaces.
If you have diabetes, use extra precaution.If you suffer from diabetes, you are prone to infection from even minor injuries. Many people with diabetes experience a loss of sensation in the feet, making it difficult to detect injury. Untreated or improper self-treatment of ailments could lead to serious, permanent damage or possible amputation. Check your feet daily for redness, blisters, or injury.
Exercise smart. Establishing an exercise program is a huge undertaking, and even the most minimal injury could sideline you for days—even months. Knowing your limit and exercising with caution can ward off injuries and frustrations. Here are a few ways you can exercise smart: set appropriate and realistic goals; pace yourself; choose an activity you like; increase your exercise program gradually; and pay attention to what your body, including your feet, tells you. Drinking fluids on hot days or during very strenuous activities can help prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion.