10 Weird Things Walking Does to Your Body

Don't Let These Strange Reactions Keep You from Walking

Walking is a great way to enjoy physical activity. But you can have some weird things happen when you are walking. Don't worry, most of these aren't going to kill you. Most.

Your Fingers Swell Up Like Sausages When You Walk

Woman walking through grasslands, close-up of hand
Credit: Nick Kee Son/Moment/Getty Images

Fat fingers are the price you pay for enjoying a walk in warmer weather. Wise walkers remove their rings before going on a longer walk. Otherwise, you may feel like they have turned into tourniquets. When you exercise, you are pumping more blood around your body. With sweating and drinking, you may have an imbalance in your body salt (electrolytes) and fluid balance. As a result, you get swollen hands, and swollen feet, too!
Swollen Hands and Fat Fingers When Walking

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Your Feet Grow A Size During Your Walk

Athletic Shoes
Athletic Shoes. Credit: Nick Free/E+/Getty Images

What's happening to your hands is also happening to your feet, only it will happen even in cool weather. Remove those toe rings before you go walking! You can expect your feet to swell as much as a full shoe size while walking. The reason is simple -- you have increased your blood circulation and your body can't fully keep up with returning it all back uphill. You need to expect this and buy walking shoes that are a little bigger than your dress shoes. In fact, it's very smart to go walking shoe shopping immediately after walking your usual workout distance. That way your feet have swollen to the size they will be during your walk. Otherwise, you are likely to end up with blisters and irritated bunions.
Do You Need Bigger Shoes?

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You Get a Weird Leg Heat Rash When You Walk

Leg Heat Rash - Golfer's Vasculitis
Leg Heat Rash - Golfer's Vasculitis. Credit: Wendy Bumgardner ©

This was a medical mystery for many years. Walkers know it well -- an ugly red rash just above the sock line. Usually, it isn't itchy. It just makes your legs look like you have the plague for a few days before it goes away on its own. Because most doctors had never seen it, they couldn't tell you what it is. But it has a name -- golfer's vasculitis. The good news is that it probably won't kill you. But it made me change my ensemble for the cocktail party I was to attend after a hot walk.
Leg Heat Rash - Golfer's Vasculitis

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Your Nose Runs When You Walk

Coughing and Sneezing
Coughing and Sneezing. Credit: Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Is your problem that your feet smell and your nose runs when you walk? You are giving your respiratory system a workout when you walk and that extra air can irritate your nasal passages, especially if it is cold, dry, or windy. You are also pumping more pollen through it, so people with allergies may end up with a drippy nose. Carry tissues. They can come in handy for our next weird walking problem, too.
Vasomotor Rhinitis
Treatment for Allergic Rhinitis

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You Have to Poop - Badly!

Restroom Sign and Arrow
Where's the Restroom?. Credit: Martin Diebel/fStop/Getty Images

I never saw a porta-john I didn't like -- often, it's an answer to an urgent prayer. Walking is good for regularity. In fact, some theorize that's why exercise is associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer. But some of us have to deal with runner's trots -- exercise-induced diarrhea. That's not something you want to face when there aren't any toilets to be found. Luckily, there are tactics that can help you reduce your incidence of this problem. Otherwise, you will need those tissues.
Runner's Trots

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You Get a Black Toenail - Or Lose It Completely

Black Toenail
Black Toenail. Credit: anayah © Deposit Photos

It's good that black nail polish or darker colors are now trendy. When your toes bang against the toe box of your shoe, it can cause a bruise or blister under your toenail. Sometimes you just end up with a black toenail that takes months to grow out. But if it has caused a blister under your nail, you may lose the nail entirely. This is not as gnarly as it sounds -- they grow back. And in the meantime, you can just paint the area where it used to be and pretend you still have a toenail. But your career as a foot model may be over for the time being.
Black Toenail

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You Chafe in Unmentionable Places

Chafing on Back
Chafing on Back After Half Marathon. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Yow! When sweat dries you get salt crystals and those rub you raw in all of your body crevices. Your crotch, underarms, and under-breast areas are particular targets for chafing. I've also gotten lovely stripes on my back where my hydration pack rubbed me on a sweaty walk (photo). As an extra bonus, your nipples also can be chafed raw, as both men and women discover. Luckily, there are anti-chafing products you can use to reduce this risk. You just have to remember to use them before you start hurting!
Chafing Prevention Products

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Your Boobs Hurt When You Walk

Woman's Torso
Breast and Nipple Pain. Denis Kartavenko/E+/Getty Images

Men have this problem as well as women. Bouncy breasts can be a sore irritation that keeps people from exercising. If you don't wear a bra, you may also have nipple chafing as mentioned above. For women, buying a sports bra that gives the right amount of compression and support is the quest for the Holy Grail. It can be a more embarrassing problem for men.

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Your Face Turns Purple

Purple-faced at the Portland Marathon Finish
Purple-faced at the Portland Marathon Finish. Credit: Wendy Bumgardner ©

"Are you OK?" I get that a lot when I walk. I'm one of those people who get a deep flush when walking warm weather. My race photos are kinda scary. The increased heart rate while walking will open up the capillaries in your face, so a healthy glow is expected. A few of us just get it a little bit more intensely. Take the usual precautions when walking in hot weather: stay hydrated, and cool off with a splash of cold water whenever you can.
Before You Walk in Hot Weather

You Get Itchy

Scratching Itchy Arm
Credit: Heike Kampe/E+/Getty

Some people break out in hives when they exercise. Others just feel itchy. An exercise allergy, dry skin, or failure to wash the soap out of your pants may be the culprits. Plus, we all have the risk of insect bites and contact with irritating plants such as poison ivy. But maybe it's that new sunscreen you were trying...

Wonderful Reasons to Start Walking

Walking on the Greenway Path
Walking on the Greenway Path. Hero Images/Getty Images

Weird things will happen when you walk, but some wonderful things will happen, too! Things like burning fat, reducing your health risks, adding healthy years to your life, making new friends and seeing great sights.

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