10 Tips for the Reluctant Walker

Stuck having to walk rather than rely on transportation? Here are tips to deal with getting around on your own two feet during a transportation disruption. It may be a weather disaster, a blackout, a transit strike, or a civil emergency. Or maybe you forgot your wallet and bus pass. But now you need to get around on foot - how can you do it?

How Far Can a Healthy Person Walk With No Training?

SW Trails Sign
Wendy Bumgardner ©

Five to seven miles is do-able for a healthy person without diabetes, heart disease, or orthopedic problems. I have often invited untrained friends to enjoy a 10K - 6 mile - walking event and all have survived with no ill effects other than perhaps a blister. That is about 2 hours of walking. If you can shop for two hours, you can walk for two hours if you are forced by circumstances to do so. Expect to cover 1 mile in 20 minutes, or 3 miles in an hour.
How Far Can a Healthy Person Walk With No Training?

On Your Feet: Shoes, Socks, Blister Prevention

Blistered feet
Blistered feet. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Select your most comfortable pair of sneakers, or in foul weather, your best trail shoes or comfortable boots. Don't try anything new for your first long walk. As you haven't been walking much, you'll need to prepare your feet to prevent blisters. Use cornstarch in your socks to help keep your feet dry. A little petroleum jelly on your toes and heels can also help prevent blisters. Select synthetic or wool socks rather than cotton socks - they will help wick away sweat and help prevent blisters.
Once-A-Year Walker's Survival Strategies

Layer Your Clothing

Windproof jacket
Windproof jacket. Wendy Bumgardner ©

As hikers do, you need to fully prepare for a good walk by layering your clothing, if possible.
1. A sweat-wicking inner layer of polyester, not cotton.
2. An insulating layer - wool shirt, polyester fleece vest or shirt, or a down vest
3. A windproof outer layer.
These three layers can see you through most conditions, either on a mountain or in the urban jungle. You will want to be able to add or remove a layer as you heat up or cool down. Also think of the other essentials - a hat, a good pack, a water bottle, sunscreen and lip protection.
How to Layer Your Clothing for Cold Weather Walking

Carrying Your Stuff

Backpack Worn Correctly
Backpack Worn Correctly. Wendy Bumgardner © 2008

A purse or briefcase will upset your posture if you carry it for more than a few minutes. For any distance walking, look for a backpack that will allow you to carry your stuff securely while maintaining good walking posture. A backpack with a waistbelt distributes the load at your center of gravity, where nature intended it to be. If you only have a few items to carry, put them in a fanny pack or in the pockets of your jacket or pants.
Top Picks for School or Commute Backpacks

Walking Survival Kit

These are the items I keep available at my office or in my car, in case I need to finish my journey on foot: Walking shoes, socks, blister prevention lubricant, backpack, water bottle, windproof jacket, shirt, shorts or walking pants depending on the season.
10 Essentials Gear for Walking

Drinking and Walking

Drinking Bottle of Water
Sarah M. Golonka/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Have a big glass of water 90 minutes before you walk. That will give your body good starting hydration and time to eliminate any extra. As you walk, have cup of water every half hour. When you finish your walk, have another tall glass of water.
How Much to Drink for Walking

What to Eat

Wendy Bumgardner ©

Before your walk, have a small balanced meal of protein and carbs. If you are sensitive to lactose, avoid milk products before a walk. You don't want to start on empty, but you don't want too much food jostling around in your stomach as you walk. Have a small snack after 2 hours if you must go on a very long walk.
What to Eat Before a Morning Walk
Before You Buy Energy Snacks

How to Walk in Cold Weather

Two Couples Cold Weather Walking
Dressed for Winter Walking. © Jim Cummins / The Image Bank / Getty

If the weather is cold, here are tips on how to dress and how to walk to stay comfortable when cold weather walking.
How to Walk in Cold Weather

How to Walk in Hot Weather

Walking to Music
JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty

Hot weather has many risks of heat sickness for new walkers. Here is how to dress for hot weather walking comfort and how to know the signs of heat sickness.
How to Walk in Hot Weather

How to Walk in the Dark

Night Walking Legs
Night Walking Legs. Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

Your reluctant trip on foot may extend from dusk till dawn. Take these precautions when walking in the dark. You will want to wear reflective clothing and preferably wear light-colored clothing. Take precautions as vehicles are less likely to see you. Carry a small flashlight.
How to Walk in the Dark

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