“It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker.”
~Henry David Thoreau
With the new year upon us, everyone I know is looking for a fun and easy way to get fit. Here’s a solution I’ve developed that doesn’t involve costly equipment or a ton of time.
Before you commit, first ask yourself: Would you like to:
• Lose weight?
• Improve endurance?
• Tone muscles?
• Enjoy long range health?
Did you know that you can reap these benefits (and more) just by walking? You can! But, what most people don’t know: In effort to achieve a certain result quickly, it pays to use a specific program (or a combination of them).
After you’ve make the commitment to a walking program, next you’ll need to establish your goals. Ask yourself: “What’s my main fitness priority?” Then you’ll need only match up your goal to one of these five programs. Choose from: weight loss, cardio conditioning, muscle toning, long term health or a combination of all of these.
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of each simple program:
Benefits: Flatten tummy, shrink hips, tighten 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 more 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: Improve muscle strength, endurance, body firmness and increase metabolism.
Type of walk: Moderate, with resistance; 20-70 minutes 2-3 days per week.
Calories expended: 500-3,000 calories per week.
Notes: Use hand weights-light hand or wrist weights and swing them in a controlled manner. When doing so, flex your arm muscles, keeping them as close as possible to your upper body.
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 ad years to your life.
Type of Walk: Consistent walks; 30+ minutes, daily.
Calories expended 2,000 per week.
Have It All! Mix And Match:
Type of walk: Choose one program each day, 4 times per week.
My Mom’s story: When I was a teen-ager my mother and I used to exercise together. After some years, however, my Mom’s priorities changed and she found herself about 30 pounds overweight. Once she made the commitment to make a change, she used the combination of a daily walk and a sensible diet. The result? She lost one pound per week for 30 weeks and is back to her thin self once again!
A couple things before you begin. Most importantly, before you begin any fitness program, check with your doctor. Also, to make your walking workout a positive experience by investing in proper footwear. You will want to have flexible sneakers, walking shoes or (what I usually recommend) “cross-trainers.” They are available at all sporting goods stores: make the investment, you’ll be glad you did!
And speaking of proper form, most people also do not realize that there is a “way” to walk for the greatest benefit. It’s easy! First, strike the ground with your heel, rolling your foot to your toe. Then, push off with your toe. Repeat this with your opposite foot.
That’s all there is to it! With a little effort and your new flexible shoes “made for walkin'” you are well on your way to reaching your healthy goals for the new year!