Summer is a great time to get fit. The warm weather gives us an opportunity to spend more time in the outdoors. And it also gives us a chance to practice one of the oldest forms of cardiovascular exercise: Walking.
We have all been walking since we were toddlers . . . so we are all experts at it. Some of us have even make a sport of it – Did you know that race walking is an Olympic sporting event?
Unfortunately, our life style today is making it difficult to practice this enjoyable activity. We have become dependent on other means of getting around and the entertainment industry is doing all they can to keep us in front of the BOOB Tube.
Unless you are a runner or serious bodybuilder there is no need to spend hours doing heavy duty cardio every week. This is where walking comes in as a handy alternative to getting fit and healthy. Just 30 minutes of purposeful walking will be sufficient . . . especially if you are starting an exercise program for the first time.
Benefits of a walking program
Walking outdoors is free of charge. Just find a good walking trail and invite a friend along.
Walking is a good low impact way to exercise. If you are overweight or obese then doing high impact cardio exercises such as running, rope skipping or high intensity aerobics classes can be hard on your joints and your body in general.
When we practice this form of cardio, especially outdoors, it can become a form of meditation and a way for us to enjoy nature.
It’s one of my favorite ways to relax and practice deep breathing exercises.
When done consistently you will lose weight.
If you have a four-legged friend take them along . . . they will love the outing.
Doing a lite walk an hour after a meal will help to metabolize food more efficiently.
How to get the full benefits from walking
- Find a walking trail that undulates with inclines and downgrades.
- Walking on grassy or dirt surface is better on your feet than asphalt.
- Wear shoes that are comfortable and socks that wicks sweat away.
- Use easy, rhythmically arm swings.
- Pick up the pace for a few minutes and gradually return to your normal rate of speed.
- You can strap on arm weights and/or ankle weights for additional calorie burning effects.
- Wear clothing that’s east to move in.
- In colder climates be sure to wear a hat as it helps to keeps heat in.
- Remember: it’s important to stay hydrated even if you don’t sweat a lot.
- Wear reflector clothing when walking at nights.
- Keep a log of your time and distances.
Things to be mindful of when doing a walking program
Always let a family member know where you are.
In high traffic areas be aware of crosswalks and turning vehicles.
Be aware of your surroundings and use paths that are well lit if you decide to walk at nights.
Be mindful when walking on uneven terrain. You can easily sprain an ankle or fall. This happen to my sister and she suffered a fractured collarbone.
If the air quality is poor then using a light mask to cover your mouth and nostrils can be helpful.
How to use walking to burn calories
I recommend doing a walking program at least three to four days per week as a start to compliment your other fitness activities.
If you are starting a walking routine – test out different strategies that will give you the most benefit.
Walk for ten minutes then take a couple minutes of rest on your first few days.
Increase your time over a period of four weeks for a total of thirty to forty minutes each session.
After two weeks you should be able to increase your frequency to do a five day walking routine.
To pump up the intensity be sure to do hill walks. Also, did you know that walking down hill can help to increase muscle strength and endurance? So be sure to do these regularly also.
If your job will allow it, do stair-climbing especially when the weather is cold outside.
I incorporate HIIT (high intensity interval training) as part of my walking routine where I alternate fast walk for five minutes and at a normal pace for ten minutes. I do this over a distance of four miles.
P.S. Learn how to combine a proper cardio routine with resistance exercises for better health and fitness. Go here now.