CHAMPAIGN – A Champaign podiatrist is giving away free pedometers and pamphlets about how to start walking for exercise.
"I've seen more people with increased weight and increased foot problems," said Dr Kimberly Eickmeier, a podiatrist at Christie Clinic.
Eickmeier is participating in a program called Keep Illinois Walking, sponsored by the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association. The program is intended to encourage people to try low-impact, calorie-burning exercise, and walking is something people at all fitness levels can do, podiatrists say.
Geri Claypool, 33, of Royal can attest to that.
A patient of Eickmeier's, she started walking 11 months ago. Her walking, combined with a weight-loss diet, has helped her lose 58 pounds, she said.
Claypool said walking was the only exercise she did for the first few months, but she later added swimming and bicycling. She's also managed to gradually increase her walking distance from a half-mile or mile to begin with to three to 10 miles at a time, and she's currently walking 12-minute miles, she says.
At first, the walking hurt her feet, she said.
These days, "my feet feel so much better," she says.
Carrying less weight has also made her knees feel better, she adds.
Eickmeier offers six tips for beginning walkers:
– Warm up and cool down. Stretching improves circulation and decreases muscle ache.
– Choose proper walking shoes.
– Pay attention to changes or pain in the feet and ankles, which could indicate a circulation or foot problem.
– Walk on soft ground, which is more foot-friendly for older adults.
– If you are diabetic, check your feet daily for redness, blisters or injury.
– Exercise smartly by setting realistic goals, increasing your exercise program gradually and drinking fluids on hot days.
Patients with diabetes or foot problems are advised to see a doctor before starting a walking program. Others can pick up a free pedometer by contacting her office and inquiring about starting a walking program, Eickmeier said.