HAVE YOU HEARD OF FITNESS WALKING?
Well I like to think of it as a term given to describe the deliberate use of Walking as a form of aerobic exercise and not used as a away to go from one place to another. When you choose Fitness Walking for exercise you will be doing it for a set duration or a predetermined distance with an aim to increase your fitness and overall well being.
Fitness Walking is an excellent, simple yet very effective form of exercise. You don’t need any prior experience and you don’t need any expert tuition. You have no age barriers and either gender can participate and as well there’s an added bonus, it’s free.
If you are looking for a gentle and gradual introduction into exercise, then you won’t find a better place to start than with Fitness Walking. It is low impact compared to Jogging or Running and you still reap the benefits of an effective cardiovascular workout. Walking for as little as 30 minutes will increase your Heart rate and oxygen consumption considerably and when done at regular intervals, lets say 3 – 4 times a week, will result in an increase in your fitness level.
Some recognized benefits of Fitness Walking include,
Helps with weight loss and weight control.
Reduces depression and anxiety.
Aids in offering better sleep.
Helps control blood pressure.
Can offset the effects of Diabetes (type 2).
Contribute to overall good health.
HOW CAN YOU VARY YOUR FITNESS WALKING?
When you’re Fitness Walking and you want to make it more challenging, find an area to walk through that offers some gradual inclines. Even walking down a hill is good exercise, as your leg muscles (Quadriceps) have to decelerate your momentum and work in what is termed an eccentric phase. Obviously hills and steps along your journey will lift your cardio intensity.
If you walk on relatively flat ground without the challenge of hills, you can do the next best thing. You can up your pace, you can walk a little faster for lets say five minutes and then slow your pace back again for another five minutes. When you alternate between these two, five-minute stages (intervals) to add extra effort, you will be introducing a different training principle to your Fitness Walking routine and that principle is called “Interval Training”.
Please don’t misunderstand, what I’m saying is lift your pace and don’t lengthen your stride. Don’t try and take larger steps, just continue walking at your normal stride length but do it a little quicker. Don’t try to take larger steps because all you will do is place extra strain on your joints (especially your lower back and hips) and it will become uncomfortable and you don’t want that. You’re putting in too much effort for no return (benefit).
When you walk at an increased rate and add in a little more emphasis with your arms, this is sometimes called Power Walking. You don’t see it as much of it these days as you did years ago, but it still has its place. Especially when you have chosen Fitness Walking as your preferred form of aerobic exercise. Depending on your individual fitness level, I would recommend introducing a Power Walking session in once a week and build from there. (no more than 3 in a week)
Posture is the all important key to nearly all forms of successful exercise. So please keep in mind standing tall, looking forward with a comfortable stride and being able to carry out a conversation are all great indicators that you are not over exerting yourself and are making the most from your participation.
How do you know if you are over doing it? One technique to use as an indicator of physical effort, is what’s called a Perceived rate of exertion. This basically means that if you feel as though you are over doing it, you probably are and should lower your pace to somewhere that is more comfortable.
Some signs that you may be over exerting yourself could be dizziness, feeling out of breathe or even nausea. If you have these signs or any signs of discomfort, you could try lowering your pace, take shorter walks and gradually building back up to a comfortable level. If symptoms persist it is recommended to consult a Professional Medical Practitioner.
By far the best method of managing, tracking and recording your intensity level is with a heart rate monitor. These personal devices track your exercise heart rate in real time (as it’s happening) and the popular brands on the market have ECG accuracy.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED FOR EFFECTIVE FITNESS WALKING?
Proper fitting, good quality Walking Shoes that support and have a decent sole thickness.
Slip on a pair of top quality sports socks. These socks have better elastic and offer better comfort for your feet.
Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes that suit the climate.
Preferably with bright colors so you can be easily seen.
Have a hat and sunglasses to reduce glare.
Grab yourself a pedometer, these wonderful little devices count your every step. Some pedometers can also indicate your distance travelled, calories used and time taken (duration). Their the perfect way to track your progress.
If the weather restricts the wearing of long pants and a long sleeved shirt, you can apply some sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
Water, don’t forget to always have a bottle of water with you so you can stay hydrated.
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Now on the other hand you should avoid the following whilst Fitness Walking,Don’t ,
Walk on very hot or humid days.
Walk at night and alone.
Walk in unfamiliar areas.
If you are ill, recovering from an illness or have an injury.
Use roads. The best alternative if you have it, is to find a local Walking track. Most areas offer this in some form and it’s a safer option than on the road.
Walk in inclement weather. It’s not pleasant and you wont enjoy it. There will always be a better day.
Fitness Walking is an outstanding way to either get into exercise or to try a new alternative. Why not get your friends involved and do it in a group, the more the merrier. It’s easy, low cost and open to everyone.
So if you want to feel fantastic, get into the great outdoors, improve your health or lose some weight, you wont find a better place to start than with Fitness Walking.
Go on have a go! You won’t look back.
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