The benefits of walking are undeniable, from weight loss to improved endurance; muscle tone to long range health. Walking can be a means to help you in reaching all of these goals. What’s more, walking is easy, fun, inexpensive and time sensitive. I’ve used it myself as a valuable tool in my own weight loss efforts.
With this in mind, you can easily achieve your fitness goals by aiming to take 10,000 steps each day. Simply pop on a pedometer from your local sporting goods store (or you can buy one quickly and easily from amazon.com) and you are on your way.
If you have specific fitness priorities however, what follows are targeted programs I’ve created to help you meet your goals quickly and efficiently. Choose from: weight loss, cardio conditioning, muscle toning, long term health or a combination of all of these.
Walking For Weight Loss:
Benefits: Flattens tummy, shrinks hips, tightens thighs, reduces excessive fat.
Type of walk: Moderate; 45-60 minutes, daily.
Calories expended: 2,000-2,500 per week.
Benefits: Strengthens heart, improves aerobic endurance, helps you perform better during other aerobic activities and helps you recover quickly from physical exertion.
Type of walk: High intensity, brisk pace; 20-30 minutes 3-4 days per week.
Calories expended: 800-1,000 calories per week.
Benefits: Improved muscle strength, improved endurance, improved body firmness and increased metabolism.
Type of walk: Moderate, with resistance; 20-70 minutes 2-3 days per week.
Calories expended: 500-3,000 calories per week.
Long Term Health:
Benefits: Done consistently, this walk will increase energy, reduce stress and fatigue, improve risk of heart disease, improve mood, improve self-esteem and add years to your life.
Type of Walk: Consistent walks; 30+ minutes, daily.
Calories expended 2,000 per week.
Have It All! Mix, Match & Add Resistance:
For all the benefits listed above choose a different program each day, four times each week. You can also ratchet up your progress by using light hand or wrist weights, swinging them in a controlled manner. When using extra weight be sure to flex your arm muscles with each swing, keeping them as close as you can to your upper body.
Most importantly, before you begin any fitness program, do check with your doctor. Especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve begun a new fitness activity. Further, and to make your walking workout experience a positive one, it’s wise to invest in proper footwear. You will want to have flexible sneakers, walking shoes or (and what I usually recommend) “cross-trainers.” They are available at all sporting goods stores and well worth your investment.
Proper Walking Form:
In my experience, most people are not aware there is a “way” to walk for the greatest benefit. To get the most from your walking workout, strike the ground with your heel first, then roll your foot to your toe. Finally, push off with the weight of your body from this forward position. Then, repeat this with your opposite foot.
That’s all there is to it! With a bit effort, focus and education you are well on your way to reaching your fitness and weight loss goals. Those of which, as Thoreau reminds us, are a true dispensation from heaven.