• Walk Your Way to Fitness

    If you want to get fit…or stay fit…one of the easiest ways to accomplish that is simply to walk. All you need is a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothing, and a bottle of water to get you started. There are so many benefits to a brisk walk. Some of them are listed below. Walking is also easier on the body than is running. If you are doing a “fitness walk”, the calories you burn will parallel those of jogging. A respectable goal would be to walk 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes. That would improve your health. Although walking is a fairly simple endeavor, keeping some tips in mind is advisable for anyone, especially beginners. I am not a doctor, but have read numerous accounts from reputable sources and these same themes reoccur.

    Benefits of Walking

    Benefits of Walking

    1. Weight loss. You will burn fat with any walk. However, if you want to accelerate the weight loss, walk 5-6 times a week for approximately 45-60 minutes each time.
    2. Low injury risk. Most people can walk without incidence. Of course, it is always a good idea to be checked out by your physician before embarking on any exercise program.
    3. Disease control. It is undisputed in the medical field that walking reduces the risk of many potential conditions, including colon and breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
    4. Cardiovascular strengthening. Walking is a great way to strengthen the heart. It is often recommended for those who have had heart attacks. It can be part of a rehabilitation program when trying to prevent a future attack.
    5. Mood enhancement. It’s actually therapeutic to be outside walking and enjoying the fresh air. Walking can zap a bad mood as endorphin levels rise. Walking can even help to lessen more serious depression.
    6. Brain boost. Your walk can help you to focus. Maybe you’ll even make a decision or solve a problem during this time. The effects of the mental boost will linger in your brain after the workout is done.
    7. Flexibility improvement. The muscles around your joints will become stronger and soon you’ll feel more in control of your body.
    8. Bone-density augmentation. According to WebMD.com, a study of nurses found that walking four hours a week gave them a 41% lower risk of hip fractures, compared to walking less than an hour a week.
    9. Improved sleep. Being more active during the day will help you to relax more easily at night.
    10. Stress reduction. Any aerobic exercise will aid in relieving built-up tension in the body. Also, making your walk a social event by going with friends can be a stress releaser as well.

    Tips for Walking

    Tips for Walking

    1. Move your arms at nearly 90 degree angles and twist at the waist as you walk. This will help your walk to be more aggressive, thus burning more calories.
    2. Use a heel to toe movement, tightening your abs and buttocks as you walk. Don’t elongate your stride.
    3. Keep the torso upright. Don’t look down at the ground or hunch your shoulders.
    4. Fuel your body with nutritious foods before the walk. If you walk in the morning, maybe you could have a bowl of cereal and some fruit.
    5. Before you walk, do flexibility warm-ups.
    6. Avoid carrying hand weights or using ankle weights.
    7. Stretch well at the end of your walking workout.
    8. Stay hydrated before, during, and after your walk.
    9. Begin at a slow pace. Pick up the intensity gradually, and then start to cool down at the end.
    10. Do the “talking test”. You should be able to talk, yet be a little breathy. This will help to determine whether or not you are within your target heart rate zone.

    Most people who walk for fitness will generally walk a mile in 12-15 minutes. Start out slowly and go a little farther each time. Using music as a motivator is a great idea also. See Motivate Your Walk with My Playlist of Songs for 11 tunes that you can listen to as you walk. They are chosen for their rhythmic beat. As with any exercise, it’s the first step that’s always the toughest. Once you start walking for fitness, I think you’ll find yourself looking forward to it in no time.