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Can Walking Improve Your Fitness?

walkingThe beauty of walking is that it can be done anywhere and with minimal equipment. Usually all that is needed in the beginning is a pair of good walking shoes and some comfortable clothes. As you become more used to walking, you can add a pedometer, or one of the newer accelerometers, and a pair of light hand weights for an even better workout. 4032

Like most other forms of exercise, start slow … and on a fairly level route. As your body adjusts to walking, you will want to challenge it more to keep getting the all the benefits of the exercise. One way is to add more steps to your routine. You can do so by adding a set distance or track the additional steps with your pedometer. 4033

Many walkers choose a goal of 10,000 steps per day, but may not be purely from your scheduled daily walk, but can also include steps from all the other walking you do as part of your normal daily routine; such things around the house as washing clothes, putting them away, cleaning house, carrying groceries, etc. Once you start wearing a step tracker, you’ll be surprised just how many steps you do put in during a day. Walking for fitness just adds more steps to that amount getting you closer to your daily step goal. 4034

If we keep doing the same thing over and over, our bodies become more efficient at it and consequently we end up burning fewer calories doing the same thing. To challenge your body, change to your routine. Three ways to do that is to vary your normal walking route, add hand weights and change the intensity. 4036

Vary the route

Instead of always walking the same flat level route, choose one that has some changes in altitude. By adding in some uphill and downhill parts, muscles are worked differently than they are on flat ground. 4037

Add hand weights

Or walk holding a pair of light hand weights; swing your arms back and forth as you walk to give your upper body some exercise and increase your heart and breathing rate. 4075

Change the intensity

Changing how fast you walk adds a dimension that your body is not expecting; Instead of walking at a normal rate of 3mph, 4088 walk at a faster pace of 5mph for a while; then drop back to your normal speed. 2333

Any change to your routine will raise your heart rate, challenge muscles and help you burn more calories. In the end your heart will be stronger, muscles more defined and you’ll weigh less. 3786

Of course before starting any new fitness routine, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional first. The second part of a successful exercise program is proper nutrition. Be sure to eat right; if unsure what that means, your doctor can suggest a diet that will give you the best nutrition to help you achieve your goal.4087