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Walking is a good way to lose weight. Anybody can do it and you don’t need any equipment. There’s no excuse not to exercise any more. The weather is better and everyone is motivated to look his or her best for summer. Here are the benefits of walking, and some tips on how to do it in such a way as to maximise your results
Like any exercise regime it is important to start slowly. When you first start walking, you may feel tightness in the front of the thigh and the calf muscles. Don’t walk for too long or at too high an intensity when beginning. To reduce soreness and chance of injury make sure to stretch after your walking routine. This will prevent injury and soreness in the future. You can’t get fit if you are injured. Try walking for 15-20 minutes to start off with, and increase the distance and intensity when you are ready. I recommend booking at least 3 days into your schedule to walk. Try to find a partner or walking group as they will hold you accountable and make you work out regularly.
As your fitness progresses it is important to increase the intensity of your walking. By this I mean the speed and the “vigour” of walking. Increase your stride lengths and pump your arms like you are power walking. If you want you can add small dumbbell weights to make it harder. Increasing the intensity is important because it increases the heart rate. When your heart rate increases it means you are burning more calories. Which in turn means that fat is used for energy and that helps you lose weight.
As your fitness level increases I recommend upping the intensity by walking up hills, and steps. This is beneficial because your legs will get toned and you develop muscle, which increases your metabolism so you burn more calories at rest. When walking, try to land on your heel first, and then roll through to the ball of your foot. Choose footwear that has a rounder heal with rugged tread, but is also flexible at the middle of the shoe. It’s important to wear shoes that are comfortable and absorb the jarring that occurs when walking on the footpath. Pump the arms and have the arms bent at 90 degrees.
There are a few ways to measure intensity. One is using your target heart rate. This is a percentage range based on your maximal heart rate. MHR = (220 – age) multiplied by the percentage range. Percentage range for a beginner would be 50-60%. For a 40 year old that would be (220-40) multiplied by 0.50 = 90 beats per minute and (220-40) x 0.60 = 108 beat per minute. So the percentage range for a beginner is between 90 and 108 beats per minute. Average fitness level is 60-70% and high is 75-85%. To calculate your heart rate while you’re walking, take your pulse and count the number of beats for 15 seconds. Then multiply by 4. If the number of beats does not match the percentage range fitness level, increase or decrease you intensity. Or use a heart rate monitor. Another way is the talk test. For low and average fitness levels, if you can talk easily or not at all, you are training too easy or too hard. You should be able to talk without too much discomfort.