Ok, you started walking to get yourself in better overall health. Good for you, but you may have hit a plateau where you might have built up your endurance levels and can cover more distance. However, those quick pounds that melted off you are now a thing of the past. You’ve even upped your distance, but you can’t seem to lose any more of that baggage that you're carrying around with you every day and it's getting frustrating. So, you’ve even skipped a few walking routines thinking what’s the point.
The point is, you’re still getting the benefits from the walking you're doing to maintain a healthy body, mind, and heart! While those pounds may not be dropping off as fast as they did the first couple of months, I bet you're eating a little bit more, maybe dish of ice-cream or slice of cake or pie now and then. But you’re still maintaining the weight you lost. This is not unusual, your body is craving the carbs that it needs to maintain its current body weight, so it can produce the energy needed to enable you to walk the distance you regularly do. This is one facet of your body becoming conditioned to what you are asking it to do. One way you can get out of this merry-go-round of eating to just maintain. Is to cut your carb intake a bit. But add an additional mile or two and increase the pace that you usually walk your route with. This will provide a slight shock to your bodies built-in computer that you programmed by walking the same route, at the same pace, all these past months!
Here is an example from the American Council on Exercise: Add some inclines to your walk and you'll torch some serious calories. A 150-pound woman walking at 3.5 miles per hour on level ground will burn 132 calories in 30 minutes. But walking at the same speed on a five percent grade, she'll burn 171 calories in a half-hour. "Walking up hilly terrain requires the muscles to produce more force to propel the body upward, which helps you burn more calories," says Julia Valentour, spokesperson and programs coordinator for the American Council on Exercise.
What you can do to get started is when taking your regular walking route. Try incorporating walking hilly routes one to two times a week. (Avoid walking those routes on back-to-back days so your body can recover.) If there are no hills in your neighborhood, go to a local school and climb up and down the stadium steps, or try the stairs in an office or apartment building. You may have to be a little creative with this but don’t make a flat area be an obstacle to you. At the gym, hop on a treadmill and add an incline. Start with a five-minute walking warm-up with no incline, then increase to an incline you can sustain (anywhere from five to 10 percent) for 60 seconds. Drop back down to no incline for 1.5 to two minutes so you can recover. Work your way to walking uphill for 60 seconds and resting for 60 seconds. Repeat this several times during your workout. "The incline should challenge you but not so much that your breathing and heart rate accelerate rapidly," Valentour says.
Another easy solution to breaking you out of your existing weight plateau is to incorporate the use of “Hand-Weights” with your walking program. While walking without weights is perfectly beneficial, the added weight elevates the exercise to a new level. A key change is in the upper body workout. ... This tends to work best with free-hand weights. You can incorporate biceps, triceps and shoulder workouts all while walking. According to the American Council on Exercise, using 1- to 3-pound hand weights while engaging in aerobic activity like walking can boost your heart rate by five to 10 beats per minute and increase oxygen consumption 5 to 15 percent. This increased energy expenditure can help you burn more calories.
But use these hand-held weights with caution. The University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health recommends beginning with 1-pound weights and increasing the weight gradually as your strength and endurance builds, not exceeding weights that are more than 10 percent of your body weight. The American Council on Exercise recommends a maximum of 3 pounds for hand weights. Wrist weights are considered to be safer than hand weights because they are worn and not held tightly in the hand; therefore, they don’t cause a sharp rise in blood pressure.
If you regularly keep tabs on how far you walk, and we hope that you do! It's almost guaranteed that you'll up your activity level. Men and women walked 15 percent more each day when they wore Pedometers and recorded their daily steps in a diary than when they just wore pedometers but didn't track their progress, according to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The walkers who logged their strides also often tried to beat, or at least maintain, their step counts from the previous day. "Wearing a pedometer and recording your step counts gives you feedback on your activity levels, which may lead to personal goal setting and greater confidence in walking," says Stacy Clemes, Ph.D.
How to get started: Purchase a pedometer, one that we are a fan of is the Pedusa 799 Tri-Axis Multi-Function Pocket Pedometer and start keeping track of your daily steps. Aim for 10,000 a day, but don't get discouraged if you're not there yet—the average woman takes about 5,000 daily. To boost your number gradually, add 500 more steps a day, every few days until you hit the magic 10K.
Now, remember we mentioned above about your body getting accustomed to what you do, even when, and how often you do it? Well, try varying your route a bit every other week. Making sure your walking where you can get some resistance by tackling a couple of hills. This is great for building up your endurance all over again. And because your mixing your route up a bit, your body will be constantly working to produce for you. Thus, burning more calories and in the long run, as long as your keeping to a sensible diet, you will start to see that weight start to drop off again.
If you find yourself having a hard time staying focused and motivated to up your mileage a bit. Try walking to some music with a good tempo beat. A recent study from the Journal of Sports & Exercise Psychology found that music can literally move you. When people walked in time to the fast-tempo music (approximately over 120 beats per minute) with a strong rhythm, they walked 15 percent longer than those who sweated in silence. Why the big increase? Music improved participants' moods, motivated them, focused their attention, distracted them from feeling tired for longer periods of time, and helped them to move more efficiently, according to lead study author Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D.
To calculate beats per minute, simply count the beats during 15 seconds of a song and multiply that number by four. In no time you should be able to gather 30 minutes to an hour of songs that fit that bill. And then you can get yourself moving and you just may be surprised just how fast you finish up your walking session because you’re getting caught up in the tempos of the songs!
So, there you have it. These are just a few ways you can rejuvenate your trek to being healthy. Try a few of these recommendations and see if you notice your clothes are beginning to feel a little loose around the middle!
From your walking to the beat partners, here at PedometersUSA.com