It’s the new year and no doubt you’ve made a resolution to lead a healthier and more fitness focused lifestyle. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to get on the path to a healthier lifestyle is walking. It’s pretty simple and very effective. Strength, endurance and weight loss are all rewards of a solid walking regime. Take stock of your health and make a specific, doable plan to attain the fitness goals you’ve set for yourself. Follow these strategies for maximizing your walking program. Walking in the neighborhood, around a big box store or even on a treadmill will all result in great benefits. Select what’s right for you.
- Frequency and Duration. Walking one or two days a week will not make much of an impact of your fitness level unless you’ve been a true couch potato over the last few years. Set a goal to walk at least three days a week for fifteen minutes a session during the first week. Before starting, make sure you have quality, well fitting walking shoes. This will make a world of difference in your stride and the impact on your feet. After one week, increase the length of walks to at least 30 minutes each session. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can achieve this. At week four, increase the frequency of your walks to at least five days a week. This will result in an increase in energy and stamina – moving towards your goals for a healthy and fit lifestyle.
- Once your body is accustomed to a five day a week walking regime, it’s time to ramp up the intensity to really build muscle and core strength. Beginning with week four, split your thirty minute walks into four levels. The first five minutes should be a warmup walk. The second five minutes, increase the intensity such that you could still carry on a conversation, but have picked up your speed to at least a fifteen minute mile. The third five minute block should be the maximum intensity that you can muster. This phase is mind over body. It’s only five minutes of intense heart rate elevation. The final five minutes is a cool down phase where your heart rate is slowly lowered back to normal.
As with any exercise regime, be sure to consult with your physician before beginning. Good luck and here’s to a healthy new you!