CrossFit, Insanity, Pure Core, HITT. Every year, new training routines make a splash on the fitness stage.
But truthfully, they only stick with about 20 percent of the population — those who are already fitness converts.
How about the rest? — the 80 percent of Americans who don’t get enough exercise? Are they really going to go from couch to Insanity and stick with it?
The surgeon general recently suggested that these 80% should start a walking exercise program, because walking helps reduce and treat chronic illnesses, which affect about half of all adult Americans.
Moderate physical exercise helps prevent and reduce the severity of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and also improves mood and mobility. Walking — a form of exercise that is accessible to almost everyone and doesn’t require special equipment or attire (other than comfortable shoes) — counts as moderate physical exercise.
But how much and when?
The government suggests 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise per week. But many experts suggest at least 30 minutes a day instead.
These health benefits include improved body composition (higher muscle-to-fat ratio) and decreased risk for metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which together increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke), And your dog might appreciate it, too the extra activity too.
One popular way to measure how much you are walking is to use a physical activity tracker or pedometer. The magic number seems to be 10,000 steps.
“The Fitbit or other trackers enable you to make sure you get your steps in — some people even do their walking after their kids are asleep. A pedometer also shows you that everything counts, it adds up — take the stairs instead of the escalator, park further away or get off at an early Metro stop.”
In other words, you don’t have to get your 30 minutes (or the 10,000 steps, which is more than 30 minutes and equals roughly five miles) in one chunk, but over the course of the day.
“The goal is to make walking a part of your lifestyle. While walking generally is much less strenuous than running, there are ways to increase the intensity once you feel ready. One way to do so is through intervals, you can do it with running and with walking. Using these types of intervals in your walking routines increases the intensity which leads to more calorie-burn and increased strength and speed. You also increase the intensity by adding hills and stairs
Tips for Walking Faster:
- Use good posture. Walk tall, look forward, (not at the ground) gazing about 20 feet ahead. Your chin should be level and your head up.
- Keep your chest raised, and shoulders relaxed (shoulders down, back and relaxed).
- Bend your arms in slightly less than a 90 degree angle. Cup your hands gently. Swing arms front to back (not side to side - arms should not cross your body.) Do not swing elbows higher than your sternum (breast bone). Swing your arms faster and your feet will follow.
- Tighten your abs and buttocks.. Flatten your back and tilt your pelvis slightly forward.
- Pretend you are walking along a straight line. Resist the urge to elongate your steps. To go faster -- take smaller, faster steps.
- Push off with your toes. Concentrate on landing on your heel, rolling through the step and pushing off with your toes. Use the natural spring of your calf muscles to propel you forward.
- Breathe naturally. As you walk, take deep, rhythmic breaths, to get the maximum amount of oxygen through your system. Walk fast enough that your breathing is increased yet you are not out of breath.
Common mistakes made by walkers...
1. Do not over stride
2. Do not use vigorous arm movements
3. Do not look at the ground
4. Do not hunch your shoulders
5. Do not carry hand weights or place weights on your ankles
Remember your fitness journey like life, begins with that first step. Gradually build up your stamina and distance while making sure you stay hydrated and be part of the 20% not the 80!!