Summer is just around the corner and while we’ve been planning how to make our home and yard ready for entertaining all day and late into the evening we might have forgotten that we have packed on a few extra pounds under our winter coats. Getting the weight off doesn’t have to involve a painful crash course, and if you start now, you can walk your way to fitness with the following guidelines. To enjoy the maximum benefits of walking as exercise, follow these quick tips:
Train in intervals. Interval training has been proven to burn more calories over the length of a workout and because it takes your body longer to recover after the workout, more calories are burned for a longer period of time. Try this interval, good for beginners and advanced walkers alike:
Warm-up: 5 minute easy walk followed by 1 minute at a moderate pace
Intervals: 30 seconds fast walking followed by 1 minute of moderate walking (repeat 13 times for beginners or 23 times for advanced walkers or to step up intensity)
Cool down: 5 minute easy walk
Invest in a Pedometer. Aim for 6,000 steps a day to maintain a healthy weight or 10,000 steps a day to lose weight. You can start adding steps throughout your day by parking farther away, taking a walk on work breaks and lunches, going on a walk with your significant other rather than watching television at the end of the day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or placing the treadmill in front of the television so you don’t miss your shows.
Stop Weighing Yourself. Measure your waist and hips or use a belt to gauge your progress instead of the scale. Walking builds long, lean muscles that will ultimately burn more calories over time. Muscle tissue requires more energy to function than fat tissue so you will be using more calories even when you are at rest.
Don’t ‘Just’ Walk. Add lunges, squats and jumps to your walk to ensure that your posterior muscles are exercising too. Walking on even surfaces primarily works the quads and hamstrings and leaves out the glutes. Consider walking backwards or tackling more hilly terrain.
Check Your Shoes. Make sure to wear shoes specifically designed for walking to avoid unnecessary strain and potential injury. Replace your shoes every 6 months or every 500 miles. After this time period, the cushions will absorb less impact, putting more stress on your joints.
Remember the more you walk, the more calories you will burn and the more weight you'll lose. Just remember, as with any new exercise routine, to take it slow in the beginning until you know what your body can handle. As you increase frequency and intensity the results will keep showing.