Ok, well maybe all that dreaming about having a six-pack while walking on the beach just didn’t happen this summer. But don’t bury your head in the sand. Getting in better shape doesn’t revolve around sand, waves and listening to Jimmy Buffet on your iPod. The fall, especially the month of September is still a great time to wake up those muscles and get a little definition sculpted around those muscles. And it may be a better time for you as well. After all, that hot oppressive sun is not beating you down as strong as it was in the months of July and August. So you may be able to go the distance a little farther than when the sun’s rays are intense and make you blink the sweat away.

Making the commitment is really all about changing your habits and looking at a permanent lifestyle adjustment, not a temporary one (like fad dieting). The hardest part is taking the first step and consciously thinking, “I’m going to do whatever I can to be healthy, including exercising and eating right.

Now we have heard this time and time again, that walking is one of the easiest exercises to get you moving and getting you active so that you can begin to feel better. Walking while adopting a healthier nutritious way to eat can combine to help you lose some weight and get you started on cleaning up your profile!

HOW TO START: First of all, one thing that all trainers and other walkers agree on is that you need to be accountable for and to yourself. Get yourself an accurate pedometer, one that not only counts your steps, but keeps track of your distance, and the calories burned. You can then match that data against your previous week’s stats. One that we like is the Yamax SW-701 Digi-Walker Multi-Function Pedometer .

Then What? Just walk out the door? For quite a few people, this means head out the door, walk for 10 minutes, and walk back. That's it? Yes, that's it. But you need to do this every day for a week. You need to be consistent and serious about making this a new part of your daily life. If this stretch of walking was easy for you, add 10 minutes to your walks next week, and the same each week thereafter, until you can walk at a good moderate pace, (able to talk easily while you’re walking), until your able to walk for at least 30-45 minutes at a time.

If you're new to walking, start off with slow, short sessions and build your way up gradually. Do not worry at all about your speed in the beginning. After you have been walking for several weeks you can slowly start picking up your pace. You won't be increasing your distance anymore at this time until you can say do a mile in under 15mins. Once your comfortable at this pace and you're doing 2-3 miles in the 45minutes time frame, then think about increasing your distance by another 1/2 mile at first and then begin to increase that after another week, and so on. Please Note: If you have a medical condition or any health concerns be sure to check with your doctor for advice before you begin a routine.

WATCH your posture. Walk tall. Think of elongating your body. Hold your head up and eyes forward. Your shoulders should be down, back and relaxed. Tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks and fall into a natural stride.  If your conscious of this, it will begin to become natural to you. It's better for you and better for your stance and gaite as you walk. You may even have someone close to you mention that you seem taller, now isn't that nice to hear?

Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up, cool down and stretches into your routine. Start your walk at a slow warm up pace, stop and do a few warm up / flexibility drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with the slower cool down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel great and assist in injury prevention.

The toughest thing about starting a fitness program is developing a habit. Walking daily will help (exercising a minimum of 5 days a week is a good goal). You should walk fast enough to elevate your heart rate, but you should not be gasping for air. Research has determined that in order to create a habit type adoption that your body is going to miss if you’re not implementing it, takes about 3 weeks of continued implementation. Once you’ve established this pattern of getting up early or lacing up after a hectic work day to hit the pavements you will find it easier to look forward to your walking sessions.

Here are some general guidelines depending on your goals:

If you are walking for general health benefits try to walk a minimum of 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, at a "talking" pace. (Talking pace means you have elevated breathing, but you can still carry a conversation.)

To improve cardiovascular fitness you should walk 3 to 4 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. At this pace, you are breathing harder but not gasping for air. Warm up and cool down in addition to the time spent at the faster pace.

If you are walking for weight loss you will probably need to a minimum 45 to 60 minutes five days a week at a moderate to brisk pace. Walking faster will burn more calories in the same amount of time. However, do increase both mileage and pace slowly to prevent injury.

It’s as easy as that. But, even though you’re just walking, you need to take care of the most important part of your body that is coming into contact with the pavement. Your Feet! Make sure you're wearing the right kind of shoes for this.

Go and visit a reputable sporting shoe store. One that can measure your gait as you try on various shoes and where the staff is knowledgeable about what they are selling. Not just a few temps that are working during a school break. Remember, your feet are the most important thing you have between you and the pavements or trails. Make sure you get the right shoes to protect them and you.

So, even though the sun has set on your summer expectations of a slimmer you. The Fall is not falling, it’s the beginning of a new start in your life of being active and keeping you moving on a way to a fitter and slimmer you. Happy Fall, from the energetic staff here at PedometersUSA.com


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