Still watching all the infomercials on TV for fitness equipment and thinking I could do that but are you going to spend the money and then really use the equipment? With all the media hype on fitness crazes, we often overlook one of the best workouts around: Walking. Walking is free, takes no special equipment, and no learning curve. We all know how to walk and should all ready have a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Research has linked walking to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. It improves stress, depression, blood pressure, and cholesterol in addition to weight loss. The recommended federal guideline for physical activity is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week and brisk walking counts. There are four main ways to boost your walking intensity as you progress.
1. Pick up your speed: What should the pace be? If you can easily talk to your walking buddy or sing along with your I-pod, you are walking to slow. If you are unable to do 30 minutes continuous walking at once, start with 3 10 minute walks and build up until you can walk 30 minutes comfortably then work on increasing your pace.
2. Cover more ground: Another way to increase your walking is to go farther. Distance work outs increase your endurance. You will not be able to walk as briskly with a longer distance but you can do some bursts of brisk walking then slow the pace for a while and alternate this pattern.
3. Challenge yourself: Once you have your routine going, you may want to increase the difficulty by walking both faster and farther. Another way to challenge you is to walk on an incline. Climbing a hill will also help with body sculpting and strength training of muscles (think glutes). Caution: If you have arthritis or joint pain, descending a hill causes the front leg to land pretty hard. So make sure that you descend slowly or that the hill does not have too steep of an incline.
4. Spice things up: Constantly changing your workout is doubly beneficial. It helps with boredom and makes sure that you work your body in more ways than one.
To work your muscles and avoid injury, use these following tips:
1. Hold your head high so it’s in a straight line with your chin parallel to the ground.
2. To pick up your speed bend your elbows and pump your arms along the side your body.
3. Focus on pushing your elbow behind your body and then allow momentum and gravity to pull the arm forward.
4. Take short, fast steps to walk faster instead of long strides.
5. To gain speed and power, roll your foot to your toes; push off with the ball of your foot and toes as you go.
6. Land each step on your heel first, not the entire foot.
March 2012 Newsletter, Part 3