Walking comes naturally and is inexpensive. By picking up your pace you can turn your normal walk into a fitness walk. This burns 10 percent fewer calories when compared to jogging a similar distance, according to Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness: A Personalized Program, written by Werner W. K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger. Walking briskly can also help strengthen your bones, manage your weight, control or prevent health conditions, such as hypertension and heart disease, and improve your mood, balance and coordination. For optimal results and injury prevention, master good walking posture and proper technique.
Wear lightweight, breathable, athletic shoes that are made for walking. The shoes should have flexible, thick, shock-absorbing soles that allow you to twist and bend the toe area with your hand. When wearing the shoes, your toes should be able to move freely and have about a 1/2 inch of space in front of them, your heels should be slip-proof and your arches must be supported. If you exercise when it’s dark outside, wear reflective or bright-colored shoes so you’re visible.
Walk at a normal pace for about five to 10 minutes to warm-up your body. Incorporate flexibility exercises, such as ankle rotations during which you raise one foot off the ground and circle your ankle in both directions. Also, point your toes and flex your feet, and perform arm circles during which you make small and large circles with your arms while they’re extended sideways, parallel to the floor. Perform about 10 repetitions of each flexibility exercise.
Speed up your walking pace gradually, landing on the heel of your leading foot and rolling onto your toes. Push off with your toes and continue the same motion with your other foot. Slightly bend your elbows and swing your arms back and forth at the same speed as the motion of your legs.
Look forward, pull your shoulders back, stick your chest out and tighten your abdominals and buttocks as you walk. Avoid rounding or arching your back. Walk as if you’re proud and confident.
Maintain a moderate pace that’s fast enough to increase your breathing, but doesn’t leave you out of breath or fatigued. If needed, take smaller steps to speed up you pace.
Reduce your speed to a natural walking pace for five to 10 minutes to cool down at the end of your fitness walk. Then, perform light stretches, such as a quadriceps stretch during which you bend one knee so you can bring your heel toward your buttocks. Incorporate a calf stretch during which you take a big step forward with one foot and gently push the heel of your other foot down. Hold the stretches about 30 seconds and repeat them on both sides.
Replace your walking shoes after every 300 to 600 miles. Go shopping for new shoes at the end of the day, or after your walking workout, when your feet are swollen.
Experts recommend performing 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise on five days of the week. If you’re new to exercise, achieve this by walking fast for about 5 minutes every day of the first week. Then, increase this to 10 minutes during the second week, and continue to increase your workout duration every week hereafter.
Wear a pedometer so you can keep track of the calories burned, the number of steps you’ve taken and the distance you’ve walked.
Change your walking route regularly to prevent boredom.
Consult a doctor before beginning a walking routine, especially if you’ve been inactive or have a health condition or injury.
Wellness: A Personalized Program; Werner W. K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger
MayoClinic.org: Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health
The Walking Site: Selecting Walking Shoes
The Walking Site: Warm Ups And Stretching
MayoClinic.org: Proper Walking Technique
The Walking Site: Tips For Walking Faster
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?