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Walk To Shed Pounds!

If you do not know it yet, walking is a great way to shed pounds. It burn calories and tone up your muscles, while at the same time it is gentle and a low impact exercise. It makes it easier on the body more than many other aerobic activities. Studies showed that while running and swimming might burn more calories than walking, people who take up walking tend to be consistent and stick with the program for weeks, months, and even years.

Walking is also a great cardiovascular exercise, it improves fitness, and it helps to keep your bones strong as the years go by. Walk doesn't require any gear besides good walking shoes, and you do it just about anywhere. And more, it's a great way to lower your stress level especially if you use the time to focus on the beauty of nature instead of rehashing the day's events.

How to start a walking program

If you are new to walking, you will want to start slowly and gradually increase your effort level. Keep in mind, that for you to see any visible results it will take at least 4 weeks of regular walking. You should start with 10 minutes for the first 5 days of week 1. If after one week you feel that it is easy for you, go for 15 minutes for week 2. Again ask your self if you are ready to move on after week 2 and try 20 minutes on week 3 and finally 30 minutes on the last week of the program. Be sure to stroll for 5 minutes before picking up your pace, and cool down with a 5 minute stroll at the end of your workout.

This program starts you out slowly, which will help build your confidence and reduce your risk of injury. You'll reap plenty of benefits even at a moderate pace (in which you're moving fast enough to get your heart pumping, but you're not out of breath). Almost immediately, you'll notice improvements in your flexibility, your energy level, and your mood.

Your initial goal should be to be able to walk 30 minutes a day every day of the week.

Once you start walking, the next challenge is to stick with it. Here are some tips to keep you on track:

  • A great way to motivate you to stick with the program is to invite some friends to join you in your daily walk. It will help you and make your walk even more fun.
  • Count all the benefits. Losing weight is a great motivator, but don't overlook the other benefits, among them: stress reduction, improved mood better fitting clothes, leftover energy in the evening, and more.
  • Take it all in. While you're walking, breathe in the fresh air, smell fragrant plants, and watch birds.
  • Track your daily work outs: Our service makes it easy for you to enter your exercise, effort level and duration and it automatically calculates how many calories you are burning.

Improve your performance. Check Your Heart Rate

You can exercise longer and burn more fat if you're in your target heart rate zone - not too easy, not too hard. "One reason people quit exercising is that they push themselves too hard and feel fatigued or get injured," says Ed Burke, PhD, author of Precision Heart Rate Training (Human Kinetics, 1998). Likewise, some fall to see results because they never work hard enough. Tracking how many beats per minute (BPM) your heart pumps during exercise helps you adjust your workouts to maximize benefits.

To get your target heart rate zone, you can get a heart rate monitor to use instead of a watch.

To check your heart rate, take your pulse at your wrist or neck and measure your pulse as you walk. To find the right rate for you subtract your age from 220. That's your maximum heart rate (MHR). For best results, exercise within 60 to 80% of your MHR. If you're age 40, your MHR is 180 BPM (220 40), and your target range is 108 to 144 BPM (180 x .60; 180 X .80). Remember: This is just a rough estimate. Always consider how you feel too.

Ready to challenge yourself?

Want to burn more calories and fat while you walk? Add a bit of running to the mix! Even just a few minutes of running during your walks can help you burn more calories, build stronger bones, and boost your fitness level. Here are a few ways to keep your run walk workouts on schedule.

  • Let music guide your intervals. Instead of constantly checking your watch to figure out when to run and when to walk, record upbeat music, and then add a voice cue on the tape to mark when you should change pace.
  • Choose a fitting reward. Buy a new workout outfit, or treat yourself to a massage for not missing a workout in a whole week.
  • Sign up and train for a race. You'll be motivated to stick with the program especially if you take pledges, and people are counting on you to finish!

The Right Shoes for Walking

Before you add bouts of running to your daily walks, take a look at what you put on your feet. When you run, your feet are briefly airborne. When they hit the ground again, the impact on your body is two to three times harder than when you're just walking. This puts you at greater risk for injury, says Howard Palamarchuk, DPM, of Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia. So what should you wear to run walk? "You can't go wrong with a running shoe," he says. You really need the extra cushion that a running shoe provides, more than any special feature that you'll find in a walking shoe.?

What to look for in a running shoe. Higher heel elevation and a dual density midsole to control the extra foot motion (look for two colors at the heel) are best. Also important is flexibility in the forefoot (look for grooves on the bottom of the shoe near the ball of the foot, or try bending the ends together to make sure the shoe bends at the front, not the middle).

You can also try a run/walk hybrid shoe, found in specialty stores. Footwear companies are beginning to cater to the run walk market.

So what are you waiting for? Start Walking now!

Source: Women?s Health Article 2003
Adapted by Editorial Staff, April, 2006
Last update, July 2008


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