How To Start A Walking Program, When You Have 50+ Pounds To Lose
Posted on September 16 2016
Have a hefty weight loss goal? Consider walking, not running, toward your best new body. A recent British study found people who regularly walked for fitness weighed less than those devoted to other types of physical activity, including running, swimming, and cycling.
Though she's tried everything from kettle balls to gyro kinesis, personal trainer and fitness video guru Jessica Smith says walking remains her workout of choice for fitness and weight control. "I truly believe it's the best way to get and stay in shape," she says. "Not only is it free, anyone can do it and you don't need any equipment to begin. It's easy on the joints, and I believe it helps with appetite control"—unlike with running, she feels less hungry after walking, not more.
One thing you will want to keep in mind is that with any fitness program, including walking you should keep track of how far you’re going, steps taken and calories burned. Naturally with today’s fitness buzz going on, one of the best ways to do this is to get an accurate, reliable pedometer or activity tracker. One all purpose, accurate pedometer that we like is the Yamax EX-510 Power-Walker Multi-Function Pedometer , it keeps track of your progress in it’s memory. Your steps, distanced walked and calories burned for up to 30 days. Which you can download to your own devices for tracking purposes. Now if you want to go a step further. Take a look at the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate & Activity Tracker It not only tracks steps, distance, calories burned, but also keeps tabs on your heart rate and sleep patterns as well. Remember, you are in this for getting a healthier lifestyle in place. So you need not only the determination to stick with the program. But you also need the right tools to keep you on track and monitor your progress so you can adjust as needed!
The Number of Steps It Takes To Lose 5 Pounds
Depending on where you begin, you can expect to shed a half-pound to 2 pounds per week with a new walking program, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of Walking the Weight Off for Dummies. (Good news: The heavier you start, the faster you'll shrink.) To get your new program up and walking—and have a good time along the way. First, check with your doctor to make sure starting this type of exercise program is good for you at your present condition.
Walking does work for just about everybody—but bumping up your activity level does put a strain on your muscles, joints, and heart. "If you haven't been exercising, running it by your primary care doctor is a good idea, just to make sure they don't have any concerns or think you need any testing done ahead of time.
Once you've begun, stay alert for signs you're overdoing it. "Always listen to your body and pay attention to its signals. Pain, light-headedness, or nausea can all be signals that you are exerting yourself too much. Other red flags include chest pain, pain that shoots down your arm or up your neck, or severe headaches, Mullen says—if you develop them, stop your workout and check with your health care team.
Gear UP! Got the all-clear? Good. For your next step, you should pick up a pair of high-quality sneakers. Go a half-size up from your regular work shoes, Smith advises, since feet tend to swell when you exercise. A brand of shoe that we like for both men and women are from Altra. Most shoes of this brand provide zero-drop, highly cushioned sole. That will help lessen the impact of your foot hitting the pavement.
Walking doesn't require a closetful of expensive athletic wear, but investing in a few key pieces can make you much more comfortable on the sidewalk or path.
Look for tops and bottoms in moisture-wicking fabrics, which keeps you dry to keep you comfortable and chafe-free. Choose styles with a bit of stretch, so they don't pinch if you take a bigger step or stride uphill, you want to make your walking routine comfortable, not provide any hindrances. In cold weather, layer up—you'll want to start protected from the elements but have clothing to shed as you warm up during the workout.
Fight the chafe.
The combo of sweat, movement, and clothing can leave your skin raw and irritated. Ward it off pre-workout by applying petroleum jelly or Body Glide—a convenient, plant-based balm. Use it on your thighs, neck, arms, or anywhere else you're prone to painful rubbing.
Stop blisters before they start by pairing properly fitting shoes with socks that fit snugly without sliding. And if sore spots do pop up, cover them with a product like a Blister Cushion or pad, which fits like a second skin to relieve pain, speed healing, and prevent new irritation.
Ultimately, you'll want to build up to 30 to 60 minutes of walking most days of the week. But start where you are—if you haven't worked out in a while, that could mean fitting in 10 minutes of motion each day. Each week, boost that daily total by 5 minutes. This slow, steady ramp-up gives your body a chance to adapt, reducing your risk of injury as you get fitter.
"One of the great things about exercise in general but especially with walking is that it really can be cumulative during the day. If you feel overwhelmed by a 30- or 60-minute total, break it up into three 10-minute segments. You'll burn just as many calories and net the same health benefits with less stress on your schedule.
At first, keep your pace comfortably challenging—you should be able to speak a few sentences, but not carry on a lengthy conversation without effort. This is the standard gauge to measure just how fast you can be walking and it’s still a good measurement system today. Maintain a steady program and you'll build endurance—you'll notice that you can, over time, naturally walk faster with less effort.
After a few weeks of steady striding, add in some speedier intervals—brief bursts of faster walking—to amp up your results. Ohio State University researchers recently found people who varied their walking pace burn up to 20% more calories than those who stride at a steady pace. This is something that can be taken out of a HITT routine where small bursts of intensity driven workouts speed up the calorie burn and you get faster weight-reducing results, not to mention the increased stamina.
Aches and Pains:
With any new routine, a small amount of soreness comes with the territory—for instance, your calves might feel tight the day after you walk uphill, or if you increase the distance by a half of full mile. For minor muscle aches—the kinds of things that hurt a bit but feel better once you start moving—apply ice (or a cooling pack) like the Ice it! Knee Cold COMFORT Pack, which doesn't leak and fits perfectly around spots like your knees, ankles, or lower back). It molds around painful areas when frozen. Stays Colder Longer and Maintains temperature longer for maximum therapeutic benefits.
Take a day off if soreness alters your gait or limits your movements, or if your aches occur around your joints rather than just in your muscles. Pain directly behind your kneecap, around your Achilles' tendon, or in your ankles or hips could mean you're pushing harder than you should. If a few days of rest and icing don't resolve these issues, see a sports doc or physical therapist for advice.
To ward off aches and injuries before they begin, add in 2 days of strength training per week. As a bonus, this also turns up your burn—in a recent 12-week study, participants who combined cardio and weights shed more fat than those who did one type of exercise alone.
Make it fun:
Don't overlook the most important element in a successful long-term fitness routine—fun. Find as many ways as you can to make walking enjoyable. For instance:
Create a playlist of your most motivating songs.
Grab a friend, a walking "accountability buddy"—and spend some time catching up as you stride.
Mix it up. Every 2 to 3 weeks, try a new route (maybe one with hills), bump up the incline on the treadmill, or grab a pair of light hand weights. Not only is it more challenging to your body, you're going to see results faster that way, and it keeps the exercise fresh.
In no time your going to start seeing results