Walk Your Way to Fitness

Almost anyone can improve his or her health with a walking program. Furthermore there is universal agreement on the positive results of walking!

Better yet, you'll begin to feel physical progress after only six to eight weeks of a “shank's mare” program. You can expect to lose weight, improve the muscle tone throughout your body, experience lowered blood pressure, enjoy better rest, and benefit from an overall sense of wellbeing. Of course, walking is good for the mind and the soul as well.

Walk this way. Many individual mannerisms aren't appropriate to brisk, recreational walking. For example, notice how you plant your feet. Do they turn out or in drastically? If so, try marching along a painted line, placing your feet parallel to the line, and pushing off from the ball of the big toe with each step. Or put one foot in front of the other right on the line. This will help you develop an efficient gait, similar to that used in Olympic competition by race walkers.

Learn to swing your arms rhythmically as you go, holding your forearms at an angle of 90° to your upper arms. Good arm action is one key to obtaining overall fitness benefits and achieving a stronger stride, as well. Once you gain in strength and ability, practice locking your knee as the heel begins to make contact with the ground. You should feel as though you're pulling the earth toward you, holding each knee locked as it passes under the body.

Most physiologists agree that that “target rate” - the heartbeat you ought to achieve at regular intervals to best develop cardiovascular fitness - should be a percentage of the number 220 minus your age. A 70 to 80% effort is right for most folks.

The easiest way to read a pulse is to place your first two fingers under one side of your jaw. When you can feel the pulse, count the beats for a sweep of six seconds on your watch. Then add a zero to your count.

A step-by-step approach. Experts recommend that walkers operate on a time - rather than distance - basis. Many folks will find themselves traveling at a rate of about 30 minutes a mile at first, but even if you're unaccustomed to strenuous activity, you can gradually achieve 20- and 15-minute miles or three to four miles per hour as your conditioning progresses; so plan your time accordingly.

Two Walking Programs

Program 1: three times a week

Week 1: 20 minutes daily, Week 2: 25 minutes daily, Week 3: 30 minutes daily, Week 4: 35 minutes daily, Week 5: 40 minutes daily, Week 6: 45 minutes daily

Program 2: five times a week

15 minutes daily, 18 minutes daily, 22 minutes daily, 25 minutes daily, 28 minutes daily, 30 minutes daily

Walking as a calorie Burner. Calories burned per minute by:

Activity: 150-pound person

Walking: 5.4

Cycling: 4.4

Golf: 5.8

Climbing hills: 8.2

Slow running: 9.2

Rapid marching: 9.7

Race cycling: 11.5

Fast running: 19.7

Health | Fitness

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