“SA Walks Update – Walking during COVID-19 – As more folks are active and focused on their health, walking is MORE important now than ever before! Please check out our updated sections on fitness walking technique, our monthly updated event schedule which offer virtual options, and even advice on walking gear. Adhere to proper safety guidelines but if walking is NOT safe in your community, please consider connecting with us and many partners to help make ALL of San Antonio walkable!”- Bert Pickell, Director, San Antonio Walks!
Walking during COVID-19
We’ve all heard that walking is the easiest exercise to do and to maintain over time. However, in light of the current pandemic, we all need to adapt to the CDC’s safety advice in dealing with the virus as we look for ways to still walk. When walking in close proximity to many folks or in tight walking paths, please be sure to wear a face covering. Of course, planning your walks on wide routes such as a river/community trail, major park, school track, or city parking lot could separate you from others. You may not need a face covering if by yourself being apart from others. In fact, wearing a constrictive face covering might limit your breathing and visibility. While it is good to develop a personal walking schedule you can easily follow, you should also establish a safe time when you can avoid large crowds. Adapt to the weather too – walking early mornings or late evenings might be best to avoid summer heat. The reverse might be true during colder weather – walk when it is warmer during the day. In essence, you need to adapt as we experience unique challenges during the pandemic.
Wearing face coverings, avoiding large crowds, and applying social distancing when we walk with family, your daily walks might be a bit different. However, you can still walk and experience enormous health and wellness benefits of walking!
The mission of San Antonio Walks! is to increase the number of people getting physically active through walking. Focusing on simple athletic walking in a recreational approach in neighborhoods and worksites, San Antonio Walks! is easy, safe, and motivating so that all ages and abilities can experience similar health and wellness benefits. It’s fun and FREE!
San Antonio Walks! was funded by San Antonio’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant, and is in partnership with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the Mayor’s Fitness Council, and the South Texas Walking Club.
Benefits of Walking
Regular physical activity helps everybody feel better and improves overall health. Walking is an excellent form of physical activity and the leading choice of exercise for Americans. Additionally, walking is free and reduces energy use, traffic congestion, and pollution.
Through consistent walking, you will…
- Get and stay healthier
- Feel better about yourself
- Have less chance for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers
- Have less chance of being depressed
- Control your weight
- Have stronger muscles and bones
- Sleep better at night
- Increase your chances of living longer
- Look better
- Be with friends and meet new people
- Enjoy yourself and have fun
Communities and members benefit from neighborhood walking groups
- Greater sense of community
- Know your neighbors and neighborhood
- Greater neighborhood activity may decrease vandalism and other criminal activity
- Support and encouragement from members
- Meeting points are close by
- Better health
We encourage limited walking groups in sizes of under 10 and with family or friends who you believe are also practicing safety guidelines as stressed by CDC.
Fitness Walking and how to take walking to another level!
Are you ready to improve your walking capabilities? While simply walking has its many wellness benefits, you could easily increase your performance if you are following some proven fitness walking tips, using appropriate gear to include the right shoes, and establishing personal wellness goals.
Not all walking is the same
Fitness walking is easily defined as walking for health and a purpose to increase your body’s wellness. However, there are different ways that people do walk but not all are as beneficial to increasing your cardiovascular abilities and overall stamina.
- Powerwalking is usually defined as a style of walking in which walkers focus on aggressive arm swing and long stride length. While this style of walking does increase your cardiovascular capabilities and strengthens your body’s core, it can be unsafe if bouncing and overstriding.
- Speedwalking is usually defined as a style of walking in which speed or the tempo of your steps is emphasized over a healthy stride and relaxed walking. It may increase your body’s cardiovascular strength but it can also lead to injury and reduced endurance.
- Racewalking is an established form of fitness walking usually seen in competitive walking events like the Olympics. However, you do NOT need to “race” to be a Racewalker. Racewalking is a style of walking that keeps your body low to the ground with minimal ground contact and optimum stride/arm swing that actually enhances your overall stamina.
Combining all these walking styles into one, there are certain characteristics that you should follow if you wish to get the most benefit out of your walking exercise.
To establish an effective fitness walking technique, you need to think like a walker, NOT like a runner. Use the form as a guide and follow these simple tips: Stand upright, no leaning forward. Keeping your arms balanced by your side. Making ground contact with the heel first, NOT the front portion or balls of the foot. Staying close to the ground while walking and not bouncing. Shift your weight from heel-to-toe. Be efficient as you walk in a simple line. Sounds easy! Can you do it?
Please check out the proper walking technique as defined by WalkFIT, San Antonio’s active fitness walking club. See if you are walking efficiently by following these techniques.
If you are interested in learning more about fitness walking and WalkFIT, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walking Gear – What to wear that will make walking easy, safe, and support your wellness
Attire – Wear easy-to-move exercise clothing. Adapt to the weather and wear what is appropriate. If possible, wear reflective clothing so that others can see you. Wearing light and flexible attire allows you to move safe, freely and more effectively. Remember to wear a hat or hair covering as you adapt to the weather. Maybe sunscreen and bug repellant.
COVID Reminder – Do NOT walk in large groups or in narrow spaces where you can’t socially distance yourself at least 6 ft. from folks who are not part of your immediate family. Don a protective mask or face covering if needed. Adapt to the face covering when walking at slow, recreational speeds.
Shoes – Probably the most important of all the exercise attire that you need for fitness walking. While almost any foot covering usually supports the walking movement, you need to invest in a good pair of exercise shoes that allow your feet to handle the walking workouts, especially if you are focusing on increasing your walking duration or preparing for an upcoming fitness walking event. Do you know what four (4) things you should look for when getting a pair of shoes for fitness walking?
Remember to be safe when you walk!
Walking Opportunities – Want to walk in a virtual or live event – competitive or non-competitive?
Walkability – San Antonio has many walkable locations but is your community or neighborhood walkable?
In previous years, San Antonio was listed as one of the “fattest” cities in the US based on subjective data that used personal wellness data referenced against food and eating access. While we love to eat our unique South Texas fare, many of us are out there burning calories as well in some type of physical fitness. Yet, given the community challenges and city infrastructure differences, it might be very difficult to walk in your immediate community. Do you have a safe and walking location that allows you to walk freely away from vehicle traffic? Are their challenges to walking because of too many cars, loose pets, poor lighting, etc.? And, while San Antonio has outstanding walking venues like the Mission Reach, Museum Reach, Greenway Trail System, and many parks, maybe those locations are far from where you live and transportation to those walking locations is difficult if not impossible for some. We do have phenomenal community and senior centers but they may require paid membership or being associated with a specific demographic so that those activities are not open to all. On face value, San Antonio has numerous walking opportunities and locations to get steps in – outdoors and indoors – but walkability is not the same for all residents.
The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) does walk studies upon request. Combining transportation planners and stakeholder managers with community organizations and concerned activists, a walkability study can highlight significant hindrances to basic and fitness walking, and will provide suggestions to elected officials and influential organizations to enact change. For details on the AAMPO, please visit www.alamoareampo.org.
Please visit San Antonio Walks Facebook page, and remember to revisit this page as we will post more walker-supportive content. If you wish for more information about our many walking groups, events, or opportunities, please email email@example.com.
See you out walking!