Fitness Walking: Trinkets, Toys, and Accessories

Walking’s  beauty is certainly its simplicity, but a few extra items or tubes stuffed in a bag can make you more comfortable. Your budding interest might also  heed the  call of an array of other helpful gadgets.

  • Strange as it may seem, petroleum jelly is probably a walker’s best friend. Spread a little on your  inner thighs, under your  arms, or between an elastic underwear strap and  skin to prevent painful  chafing.  You can  also  find other antirub products in sports stores.
  • Sun protection is vital—always and without exception. Use one  with  a rating of 30 SPF. Men, don’t  forget  the  back  of your  neck.  Women,  don’t  forget the  backs of your  knees. Look for Fitness Walking: Trinkets, Toys, and Accessoriessunblock that is fragrance free and  geared for use during sport and activities. Some companies make sprays, too, which are convenient for legs, backs, and  (yes,  men)  tops of heads.
  • Sunglasses reduce eyestrain and eye damage. They aren’t just for looks, so invest in a good pair.
  • A digital watch will help  you  time  your  workouts or just  note the  time of day  so that you get home when  you’re  supposed to. As you advance, you might  consider a sports watch, with  lap memory, so you  can  time  segments and  track your  progress.
  • High-tech heart rate monitors aren’t exclusively for competitors, although they may  be one  of those toys  you  add  to your  walker’s closet as you  progress. You can  get basic models for about $50 that show  your  heart rate and workout time.  Fancy  models with target zones, lap timing,  memory, recover y time, and  all  kinds  of other doodads can run $100, $200, and  up.  Whatever your fitness level,  this gadget can  accurately monitor your heart rate to help you stay  safely  where you belong for that day’s  workout. The  most accurate are those with a  band you  wear around your chest to measure your  heart rate from the source, compared to those that take  your  pulse from a fingertip.
  • Pedometers have  come of age in the  last  decade, going from mostly inaccurate to fairly well made. You can get basic models for $10 to $30. Of course, leave it to the tech wizards to take  a good  thing perhaps too far. There are now pedometers  with timers, alarms, radios, and  even  heart rate monitors, and those are priced accordingly.  If you  use  a pedometer to estimate your distance, be  sure the stride length is set correctly and  the terrain you’re covering doesn’t change much.
  • Personal stereos might be entertaining, but they can be dangerous. They can damage hearing and block traffic noise or even the sounds of approaching dogs and  people. It’s best to leave  yours at home, but  if you  really can’t  do without, keep  the  volume low or listen with one ear only.
  • The use  of hand weights while  running or walking  has  been debated by medical and  exercise professionals for years. To make  a long story short, dangling a pair from your  fingers  doesn’t do much more than strain ligaments and muscles in your shoulders, elbows, and hands. Gripping a weight can cause high  blood pressure, too.  Muscle  toning isn’t  increased, and  the  increased calorie usage is insignificant. Weighted vests are another matter. Although safer on joints in your  arms and legs, they  can make a basic fitness walk more difficult and exhausting. They are best reserved for the very advanced or someone training for an endeavor that involves carrying weight, such as backpacking or adventure racing.

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