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Why Multitasking While Walking is a Bad Idea

It might be tempting to bang out a quick text or grab a bite on the go, but walking and multitasking could lead to injuries. Just as several states outlawed sending emojis from behind the wheel (thanks to research showing texting and driving impairs judgment and reaction times), new research on texting while walking shows that you shouldn’t be doing that, either.

A 2017 study published in in PLOS One found that texting while walking leads to taking shorter steps and increases the height of your stride — producing a stride pattern similar to those seen while under the influence of alcohol. Moreover, walkers were slower and more apt to veer off course.

Conrad Earnest, PhD, a research associate in the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M University, who conducted a similar study also published in PLOS One, explains, “Several reports suggest that this type of pedestrian behavior leads to more pedestrian accidents, possibly increases the risk of tripping and increases riskier road crossing behavior due to a lack of attention.”

In Honolulu, texting and walking could also lead to a fine. Starting October 25, it will be illegal to cross a street or highway while looking at a mobile electronic device like a cellphone. Fines will range from $ 15–$ 35 for the first offense and go up to $ 99 for a third offense.

WALKING AND TALKING OR CHEWING GUM

It’s not just texting that’s problematic: Walking and talking on the phone also has risks.

Ohio State University research showed the number of emergency room visits associated with pedestrians using cellphones in public more than doubled between 2005–2010. In a news release, co-author and professor emeritus Jack Nasar, PhD, says, “The role of cellphones in distracted driving injuries and deaths gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but we need to also consider the danger cellphone use poses to pedestrians.”

At Old Dominion University, researchers studied the impact of chewing gum on walking. The research, which has not been published, found you walk more quickly when you chew. Although the study wasn’t set up to look at multitasking, Steven Morrison, PhD, the  professor who oversaw the research, noted that performing any two rhythmic behaviors like chewing, tapping your fingers and walking, affects gait.

Because you tend to chew faster than you walk, Morrison says, “when you begin to chew, you take off,” so your gait matches the pace of chewing.


READ MORE > 4 MAJOR WALKING MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM


AGE AND GENDER DIFFERENCES

The impact of multitasking tends to affect men more acutely than women. A 2017 study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science found men were stumped by a cognitive test administered as they were walking.

Earnest believes teens may be another population most at risk to the effects of multitasking while walking because of their tendency to engage in riskier behavior but adds, “The same risks apply to those in the workplace and bustle around town during their daily commute.”

Since multitasking and cellphones are facts of life, researchers acknowledge that convincing pedestrians to go cellphone free is not a likely solution. Earnest compares checking email and texting while walking to eating a healthy diet and exercising, explaining, “It’s like any healthy lifestyle habit. Eventually one has to exercise due diligence and self-protection.”

Just like doughnuts are OK in moderation, Earnest noes, “Perhaps a good middle ground is that if a text or email really can’t wait, then ‘pull to the side,’ stand still, answer the text/email and continue along.”

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Walking Injuries – What Are They?

What are the common walking injuries?

Hello All!!!

You must be under the impression that running, weightlifting and playing football can cause injuries and not walking. In spite of being a low-impact exercise, walking can also cause injuries if you are not very careful.

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Injuries can range from blisters to tendinitis but that does not mean that you should give up walking. Experts are of the opinion that the benefits of walking as an exercise outweigh the risks.

Have a look at the common walking injuries and tips on how to manage or avoid them.

Blisters

The chief cause of blisters is friction due to ill-fitting shoes and sweaty socks. Blisters are small but these sacs filled with fluid can ruin a walk hike or run. The other important thing to note is to ensure that you don’t pop the blisters. It may seem very tempting but popping blisters is a strict no-no. Experts say that puncturing the skin can open up the door for bacteria and worsen your condition.

What to do: For a minor blister, you can simply tie a bandage and continue to walk. However, when the blister is larger, you should switch to another activity till it heals up completely. If you want to avoid blisters, it is suggested that you wear shoes that fit you properly and choose socks that absorb moisture.

Plantar Fasciitis

The inflammation of fascia, a tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes can cause a lot of pain. In milder cases, the pain is known to disappear during a walk. Walking may initially be uncomfortable for several minutes but then the pain will go away for the remainder of the walk. If the condition is more severe, you may feel the symptoms escalating during the walk.

What to do: The doctor will prescribe you medicines and externally you can apply ice to the area for 20 mins for a minimum of 3 times day. This way your pain will get eased. Regular stretching or physical therapy can also ease the pain. You can also support the arch with the help of arch supports.

Shin splints

Pain and inflammation in the inner edge of the shinbone is diagnosed as shin splints. The pain can either be sharp or dull and throbbing. It can occur both during and after working out.

Most often, shin splints are associated with running but walking can also cause them. Shin splints occur due to overuse or doing too much too soon. Ill-fitting shoes are another common cause of shin splints. The pain is common with those who have flat feet.

What to do: Combine rest with ice and medicines prescribed by the doctor can help in calming the inflammation and getting rid of the condition. In order to ensure that your pain does not return, be easy with your exercise program (walking included).

Tendinitis

An inflammation in the tendon is called tendinitis. The condition can be due to tight calf muscles, walking too far or very fast. It can trigger swelling, pain and irritation. Depending on which tendon is affected, tendinitis can make your walking workout almost impossible.

What to do: Do not walk with the pain. Take rest and apply ice. Consult the doctor and take anti-inflammatory medicines to ease the pain.

Metatarsalgia

This condition occurs when there is pain in the five bones in the area under your toes around the foot’s ball. The pain can be burning or sharp. The causes of metatarsalgia can be anything from torn ligaments and joint inflammation to ill-fitting shoes and calluses. If the pain gets worse, you need to stop and take rest.

What to do: Treatment is based on the cause. So, you need to buy shoes that fit you properly or insert arch supports or soak your feet to soften and remove the calluses. It is suggested that you switch to swimming, biking or use the elliptical machine when you have this problem as the pressure will be off the ball of the foot.

Foot-pain

The bottom line

Preventive measures will ensure that you stay protected from walking injuries and can enjoy long walks but if you ever get any kind of injury, head straight to the doctor.

Hope you liked this post on walking injuries!

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The 7-Day Walking Plan

With the mercury rising, it’s easy to make excuses and miss a workout, which is where a 7-day walking pledge comes in handy. The next seven days will set you on a path to consistent, enjoyable and beneficial walking. Enjoy!

GETTING STARTED

Plan to walk during the time of day when you know you can be consistent — maybe before or after work or on your lunch break. Look at your calendar for the next seven days, then schedule your walks like you would a meeting.

We are asking you to slowly build from 30 minutes a day on Day 1 to an hour on Day 7. It’s great to start on a Monday, but any day you want to start is the right day.

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Is Walking the Fountain of Youth?

Walking just might be the perfect exercise: It’s low impact, reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and dementia; strengthens your heart, boosts mood, raises vitamin D, burns calories and builds muscle.

Harvard University created a chart that compares the effects of aging with the effects of exercise and found that, in almost every category, exercise counteracts the effects of aging. Now, new studies offer two more reasons to go for a brisk walk.

WALKING & HIIT

Research published in the March 2017 issue of “Cell Metabolism” found that a brisk walk could help slow the aging process. The study broke 72 participants into two age groups (18–30 and 65–80) and three exercise groups (high-intensity interval training, strength training and HIIT with strength training). At the end of the 12-week period, researchers noted that participants in the HIIT group, which included biking or “difficult” treadmill walking, had significant changes at the cellular level.

HIIT caused cells to make more proteins in the mitochondria, which take in and break down nutrients and create energy; and the ribosomes, the cell structures that make protein and repair cell damage. In the younger group, mitochondrial function increased 49%; the increase was 69% in the older group.

What this means, according to K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, diabetes researcher at the Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study, is that exercise appears to stop aging at the cellular level. In addition to cellular changes, those in the HIIT group had improved insulin sensitivity, which could reduce their risk of diabetes.

In a statement, Nair said, “Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process.”

WALKING & STEPS

Walking could also be the key to keeping older adults out of the hospital. Australian researcher Ben Ewald, PhD, senior lecturer in epidemiology and at the University of Newcastle, followed 3,253 adults over age 55 and compared the number of steps they took each day (based on pedometer data) with hospital admissions.

The findings, published in a 2017 issue of the “Medical Journal of Australia,” found that those who walked 8,800 steps per day spent one-third less time in the hospital than their more sedentary peers who walked just 4,500 steps per day.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of cancers, heart disease and diabetes, which are the main serious illnesses, so active people are less likely to end up in hospital,” says Ewald.

Although the research was done on older adults, Ewald believes the findings are applicable to all age groups, noting, “The biggest risk to health these days, now that smoking has nearly died out, is sitting down all day. There is no reason to believe that increased activity at other ages would not have similar health benefits.”

The research would also apply to activities other than walking but, Ewald notes, walking is likely the easiest form of exercise for most people to incorporate into their daily lives. Any activity is good activity,” he says. The key is finding an activity you enjoy and incorporating it into your daily routine.


READ MORE > RESEARCH SHOWS THE HEALTHIEST WAY INTO WORK IS BY BIKE


“The easiest thing is to walk or cycle to work, because by the time you have been to work and back you have also met your physical activity target for the day with no further effort,” says Ewald.

Try wearing an activity tracker to make sure you’re getting at least the 10,000 steps (five miles) per day recommended by the American Heart Association.


GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WALK

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