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I’m a huge fan of walking — it’s how I lost 60 lbs., got healthy and fit, and what led to my career pivot to a fitness professional helping others get healthier and fit, too. With so many benefits, and the fact that it’s something almost everyone can do, I believe walking is the perfect exercise. [See: 25 Reasons to Get Up and Walk]
While you don’t need any fancy equipment to get started walking, in the years I’ve been doing this I’ve found some very helpful accessories that make walking even more enjoyable and safe. I wanted to share these suggestions with you.
Foot care and the best shoes for walking or running
Having experienced a very painful, very long-lasting case of plantar fasciitis in the past from wearing cheap shoes because they were cute, I learned the hard way to never skimp on footwear. If you invest in nothing else, please make it a good pair of athletic shoes that provide excellent support.
Walking and running shoes – Shoes are such an individual need that I think it’s hard to recommend one over the other per se. But for me, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS has been incredible, and one of the reasons I’ve been able to workout pain-free. I first learned about them when I went to a running store, where there was a trained associate who watched me walk and analyzed my gait to see what category of shoe would work best for me. With that and my need for something wide and cushiony with excellent arch support, I left happily with a pair and have replaced them regularly ever since. Now I almost always buy them online, so that I can get the exact style and size I need at the best price.
Find the shoe that’s right for YOU. See Amazon’s extensive selection of running and walking shoes here.
Orthotic insoles are another must-have for me. There are many different types available, and no matter what kind of foot you have — whether flat feet, high arches, or neutral — there is a pair that will work for you. And if not, custom orthotics from a podiatrist are a worthwhile investment. Take a look at the collection of orthotic insoles here.
Thorlo Thick Cushion Running Socks – I never realized the difference socks could make in running/walking comfort, until I tried these. They are especially made for this, and have cushioning built-in in just the right places on the bottom. It’s not padding; it’s extra knitting that provides the cushioning, but not so thick that it affects shoe fit. I’ve been wearing Thorlos for several years on a daily basis. Plus they are made right here in North Carolina. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Foot roller – Before I ever step on the road or treadmill, I use a foot roller — to massage the foot tissue, increase blood flow to the area, and help prepare feet for walking or running. It’s also great to use immediately after walking or running, to aid in recovery. Plus, it feels oh so good!
Helpful accessories and technology for walking and running
Bounce-free fanny pack – I never hit the road without one. In it I keep my phone, keys if necessary, tissues, pepper spray, and any other necessity I might need. The fanny packs made for runners and walkers are made of sweat-absorbent material and are adjustable with elastic so they stay put on your waist and don’t bounce around.
Bluetooth earbuds – Cordless is the way to go; I have definitely found that a bluetooth model is well worth it. TIP: For safety, if I’m wearing earbuds I like to just wear the earbud in one ear. I tuck the other side in my bra strap. This way I can hear any traffic, people or dogs approaching me from behind.
Music is a necessity for me for fitness walking…and not just because it makes working out more fun. I create and use my playlist to guide my workout, using slower songs for warmups and cooldowns, and faster ones for intervals. It’s easy to stay on pace when you can just walk or run to the beat.
A must-have safety item for walkers, hikers, cyclists and runners
Eye and skin protection for outdoor activities
Visor – Buy one specifically made for athletics, as they are sweat absorbent and will stay in place.
Sports sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection.
Lip balm with SPF – I like to keep this in my fanny pack so I can re-apply after I drink water.
Clothes for walkers and runners
Clothes for walking or running – Always choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. Avoid 100% cotton — it will just stay wet when you sweat, and not only is that uncomfortable, but it could lead to chaffing.
Nothing will energize your workout like a brand new outfit! It’s almost magical how that works!
Shorts and leggings are a necessity.
Top pictured: http://amzn.to/2u1gob4
Now that you’ve got everything you need…get out there and get going! 🙂