Ok, Summer is here, well, it’s really here tomorrow, Friday, June 21st. And if you’re a little embarrassed at how you may look, wearing just a tank top and a pair of cut-off's, you’re not alone. For a lot of us, we've put off getting serious about getting in shape. But this hot weather can kind of force the issue as we are all wearing a little bit less, trying to either soak up the summer sun or just trying to be a little more comfortable in the summer heat.

Whatever the reason, the shapes our bodies are in comes to the fore, and there's not too much we can do about it. Except use this feeling to commit to getting yourself in better shape. And it doesn’t have to be done by spending hours in the gym. Getting fit is easier and a lot more enjoyable than you may think.

Here is some good news for people who don’t like to work out. You’re doing it every time you walk. Nobody thinks of this aerobic activity as an exercise because more than 7 billion people do it daily and it’s not hard. So how could something so easy, low-impact, simple, accessible and, for the most part, enjoyable actually be good for us?

But keep this in mind, NO amount of walking will help you get in shape if your diet is not what it should be. Eating meaningless calories each day will not only keep you from losing weight, eating wrong will put weight on you in increased amounts. Maybe not as fast as if you were not walking at all. But in the end, without changing your diet you WILL gain more weight. Which defeats the purpose of walking to help change your lifestyle!

Once you make that wise choice, the rest will follow. A study from the University of Utah basically proved that people are made to walk. Researchers had different athletes run in different styles while measuring their oxygen levels at all times. The result was that walking – not running – was most efficient way to stay in shape and lose weight while being easiest on your body.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Mathematically, that’s 22 minutes a day or 30 minutes five days a week. This is the minimum amount of time you should brisk walk if your goal is to maintain your weight. The new minimum is 250 minutes a week if you want to lose a few extra pounds. Walk for half an hour a day for maximum effect. As is the case with every workout, your body will adapt. You will eventually need to increase the intensity or mileage to achieve the same or better results.

Walk Well
Losing about 10 pounds in one month by eating better and walking more is completely realistic, but you have to know how to "promenade" well. When you think of fitness walking, imagine standing tall. Good posture is where it all starts. Straight back, head forward and swinging arms. Heel-to-toe walking is most efficient. Use your abs and hip flexors to move the legs forward. The best speed is usually just a little slower than when you are about to break into a jog.

Track Your Speed and Distance:
Walking for walking’s sake is good, but to really get the benefits out of it you need to be accountable for what you do, how much you’re doing it and how far your going! In order to make any kind of gains, you need to set goals for yourself and work to meet them. And when you do, keep pushing that bar a little further out there. Using a good reliable pedometer will allow you to keep track of your steps, the distance you’ve gone, and even how many calories you're burning while walking! A good pedometer to latch on to is the Omron HJ-321 Triaxis Pedometer  An accurate Pedometer like the Omron HJ-321 is a partner to your walking program that motivates you to take those extra steps toward better health and increased energy. Whether positioned flat, vertically or horizontally, it accurately counts every step, using Omron's renowned accelerometer technology.

The HJ321 Pedometer is specially designed for power walking and aerobic exercise. It counts your moderate (i.e., brisk) steps separately from normal walking steps, as well as the distance and time you've traveled, giving you more information about your overall activity level.

Start your walking routine at a moderate speed – about 140 steps a minute. Increase to a brisk pace after a couple of miles. Try speed walking, too. It’s a great aerobic workout that focuses on your legs and also boosts your cardiovascular strength. Finish a mile in 14 minutes or less. Don’t forget to swing your arms with each step.

Try a little more challenging program when you get comfortable with the speed. Do an interval walk. Complete 3.5 miles in 40 minutes by walking at an easy, quick, as-fast-as-you-can, and brisk speed a few minutes at a time. Walk at a steady pace if your goal is to build stamina. Finish three miles in about 45 minutes. For endurance, you should be able to finish four miles in no more than an hour at a speed of about 135 steps a minute. You’ll have to increase the tempo or the mileage as you become more fit.

Add weights
If you want to boost your metabolism, you must build muscle. That can only happen if you do resistance training. So grab a few lightweights – 2.5-pound dumbbells, for example – and do bicep curls as you walk. You can also add some exercises for the triceps.
As you continue to make your walking workout more challenging, do something different after every lap on the treadmill or before every speed change. Good options include burpees, jumping jacks and squats.

Take the stairs, yes, it’s that easy!
This easy trick cannot be stressed enough. Twenty minutes on a Stairmaster can equal more than half an hour on a treadmill. You should at least take the stairs going up to your floor at work. A quick walk up and down a few times, followed by 15-25 jumping jacks, is a great cardio drill to boost your health. Bonus: Your glutes are benefitting greatly.
Walking is an exercise; doing more of it will undoubtedly lead to soreness. Don’t forget to stretch. This is the most neglected part of any workout routine but it’s also one of the most important ones. You just walked for an hour. Stretching for 10 minutes is not going to kill you.

A good Workout, and yes walking is one of the best, results in having more energy, feeling happier, being more self-confident and in many more physical and mental benefits.  Sure seems like a Win-Win situation to me!

So, again, the suns shining, the air is warm and the sky is a bright blue. What better time then this to commit to a walking program that will aid you in living better, being happier with yourself and help to sculpt your body into the physique that you’ve been waiting for. Go on, lace up, and go for that walk!

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