Walking could be the best way for couch potatoes to become active. Of all your fitness options, walking is the easiest, safest, and cheapest (you need no equipment except for comfortable shoes). It’s also gentle on your ankles, knees, and back .
- Beginners can benefit from as little as three 40- to 60-minute walking sessions each week.
- Once you have gotten used to the exercise, you may want to bum more calories by walking the same amount of time five times each week.
- An easy way to add variety is to walk on both hills and fiat
- When walking on fiat surfaces, keep your posture up- right and relaxed. Your shoulders should be aligned over your hips.
- When walking uphill, try leaning forward slightly-it’s easier on your leg muscles.
- Walking downhill, contrary to what you might think, is harder on your body. It places extra stress on your knees, so it’s a good idea to slow your pace and take shorter steps
- Briskly walking one mile at 3.5 to 4 miles per hour burns nearly as many calories as running the same distance at
- a moderate pace.
- Walking uphill burns more calories than walking on fiat surfaces. The steeper the hill,
- the more calories you walk off.
- You can also burn extra calories by walking on grass or
- a gravel trail.
- Walking along the beach is great exercise, too: keeping your normal pace on sand will burn more calories because of the extra resistance.
If you have trouble sticking to your walking routine, think about getting a dog. You can trust a dog to get you up and walking at least twice a day.
- Race-walking is a great calorie burner. The objectives are to get your body moving forward as quickly as possible without running, and to avoid the up-and-down motion of regular walking. Instead of a regular stride, you thrust your hip forward and swivel it around. This propels you more efficiently than the normal
- side-to-side swing of the hips.
- Think of race- walking as walking a tightrope. Normally your feet make parallel tracks, but in race-walking you put one foot down in front of the other almost in a straight line. Because of anatomic differences, this may not be completely achievable by everyone. Come as close to it as
- you can.
- Your feet should stay close to the ground, with no wast motion. Let each foot strike the ground solidly on the back of the heel, with the toes pointed slightly upward.
- Use long strides. Your motion should be efficient and
- Bend your arms at a 90angle and pump your arms. When you bring your arm back, your hand should come about six inches behind the hip, while on the swing forward the wrist should cross the center of your chest.
- Keep your hands above yo hips. The vigorous arm pumping counterbalances your leg/hip motion, allows for a quick pace, and provides a good workout for your upper body.
- Keep your torso, shoulder and neck relaxed. Don’t ben from the waist-this can lea to back strain. Some race- walkers angle their whole bodies forward slightly.
- Technique is important, so practice. Get advice from an experienced race-walker, if possible.
- Think of pole walking as cross-country skiing without me skis. Instead of ski poles, use lightweight, rubber-tipped poles, sold in many
- sporting-goods stores.
- Find the right-size poles by testing them in the store: you should be able to grip the pole and keep your forearm nearly level as you walk.
- When you step forward with your left foot, bring your right arm forward and plant the pole on the ground, about even with me heel of your left foot.
- Pole walking exercises the legs, chest, and arms, and some abdominals as well.
- Water-walking started as rehabilitative therapy for people with injuries. It wasn’t long, however, before it was recognized as a boon for everyone.
- You can water-walk along a lake shore or a beach-in water ankle- or calf-deep- without ever getting your hair wet. Walking at a steady pace will burn 300 to 500 calories per hour.
- Deep water provides more resistance, but you may prefer waist-high water, since you won’t tire so easily. Walking in shallow water is fine, too just walk faster and longer.
Because of the water’s resistance, you don’t have to walk as fast in water as you would on land to burn the same number of calories. Walking two miles per hour in thigh-high water is the equivalent of walking three miles per hour on land.
- Walking backward has a lot to offer: It strengthens the abdominals, the back muscles, the quadriceps, and the ham- strings. It also makes for a fun
- change of pace.
- If you are recovering from a leg or ankle injury, you’ll find retro walking less stressful
- than regular walking.
- Take precautions. Do retro walking only on a smooth surface, like a track, and never do it around automobile or pedestrian traffic.
- It’s helpful to do retro walk- ing with a partner. This way one of you can walk forward while the other walks back- ward. Do this for a while, then
- Start off slowly to keep your calves from getting sore. Be sure not to walk more than a quarter of a mile backward your first week.
- Use retro walking only for variety, as it doesn’t provide as good a workout as brisk
- forward walking.
DON’T FORGET THE ARMS
- By swinging your arms, you’ll burn 5 to 10 percent more calories, and you’ll get an
- upper-body workout as well.
- Your arms should move in opposition to your legs- swing your right arm forward as you step forward with your left leg. This arm motion helps
- counterbalance the motion of
- your legs.
- As you increase your pace, switch to pumping your arms: bend your elbows at 90° angles and pump from the shoulder. Keep your wrists straight and- to reduce fatigue-keep your hands unclenched. Swing your arms in a small arc across your chest; your elbow should come to about the middle of your chest and as far back as your buttock. (This is similar to the arm motion of race-walking.)