Spring is almost here
and with it comes one great big fitness benefit. The longer
and warmer days make it much easier to walk your way to
fitness. Were all instant experts at walking because
weve been doing it all our lives. With a little extra
determination, we can turn a walk into a pleasant, stress-busting
activity that we enjoy. Walking can be even better if you
share it with someone special or your pet.
The key to fitness through
walking is to go for speed. Youll need to pick up
the pace and keep it going for a period of time. Its
best to work up to at least 3 miles at a brisk pace. Try
to walk 3 to 4 days a week. If youre out of shape
and just starting a walking program, go for 10 minutes every
other day and increase your time and pace gradually.
Your body will respond better
to a walking program if you vary your style of walking.
On the days youre short on time, try walking more
briskly for a shorter period. On the days you have more
time, try to spend more time walking at a less intense pace.
You can also incorporate both styles in the same workout
walk fast for a mile, then slow it down and string
it out longer. You can also vary the style of stride you
take. Try a longer stance for a while, then alternate with
small, quick steps.
The buddy system is a great
way to stay with a walking program. Ask a friend or spouse
to set some fitness goals with you. Early mornings, right
after work, and after dinner are good times for people who
work to incorporate a walking program. Commuters can walk
after work and then drive home to avoid rush hour traffic.
After-dinner walks with a spouse or family member are not
only good for improving fitness, they encourage communication
that might not occur while sitting in front of a computer,
watching T.V., or puttering around the house.
Begin every walking session
with a brief warm-up to raise your body temperature. Spend
5 to 10 minutes at an easy pace to get blood flow going
to the muscles and to loosen up tense areas. Keep your posture
erect and your walking style simple and relaxed.
To motivate your walking
program consider this: Walking is a great stress buster.
The fluid, steady motion puts you in touch with your body.
The low-intensity impact is easy on your joints. You can
increase circulation and improve cardiovascular fitness
while you define and shape the muscles of the lower body.
If you walk with a pet, friend, or family member, youll
also be helping them achieve better fitness.