Age-net looks at the ways walking can improve your fitness
People are embracing healthy living more and more people are looking to take up running as a way to achieve their fitness goals. The problem – you have to walk before you can run.There’s no point in entering yourself into a race for life for a charity run if you’re not ready to tackle the challenge. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of us around who think we’re fit enough to handle a fitness a challenge, until we give a bash. That’s a hard lesson to learn the hard way, but there’s a simple approach to get you back into the fitness game, running the races and experiences all the health benefits from taking charge of your health.
It just starts with putting one foot in front of the other.
Baby steps will eventually win the race.
Why you must learn to walk before you can run for fitness
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Motivates you to keep pushing towards fitness goals instead of giving up when you feel it’s too difficult
- It gives you more control over your heart rate – reducing the extreme risk doing some serious harm to your body
Fitness is great for you so long as you are healthy. It’s a bit of a catch 22 that one, because you only learn that you’re really out of shape when you tackle a form of fitness that’s beyond your physical capabilities.
We all have limitations but we can all at least walk and that’s the exact place to get started before you tackle the running.
To ensure you get off to the right start, we’ve packaged together a host of information so you know exactly what you need to start, how to start, master the technique and progress to running if you desire.
Getting the footwear right
There’s nothing going to hinder your progress worse than having the wrong footwear will. You need the right shoe and you need to replace them when they become worn. If it’s been a while since you treated yourself to a new pair of shoes, then get your feet sized because the perfect fit is important when you’re walking.
A great walking shoe should be a great fit, have a low heel, flexible sole and plenty of cushioning. Breathable fabric is preferable.
To find the right shoe, you will find it easier to shop on the highstreet because you get to try them on. If you plan on taking advantage of online shopping deals, be sure to find out the returns policy because if you pay for post and packing each time, it might not be worth the savings.
If you know your exact size, then certainly shop around the highstreet and on internet shopping sites as you can find superb deals on footwear.
Set your goal for a new pair of shoes
We all like to reward to ourselves with little things and in the case of walking, one of the things you need to do is replace your footwear when they become worn.
You’ll probably find that you’ll get between 300 and 500 miles out of your footwear. Unless you’re heavy footed, in which case you might go through quite a few pairs of shoes.
If you’re able to walk an hour a day, at a pace of 3 mph, then 3 hours over 7 days, you’re covering 21 miles. At that rate, your shoes will last you approximately 14 months, but the sooner you cover that mileage, the sooner you get your shoes.
You can do that in one of two ways. Increase the number of miles you walk per day, or you can increase the speed you walk and cover more miles in one go.
Use wearable fitness technology
The only technology you need is a pedometer. That will record the miles you’re walking each day and you can use it when you’re at work, and moving around the house too. It’s still walking.
Other tech gadgets are there that can make your walks more enjoyable, or even work to reduce your anxiety levels if you’re troubled with stress. An MP3 player, or the music player on your mobile phone can be used to listen to music that lifts your mood and helps you to keep walking to the pace of the beat of the music. If you need a relaxing experience, you can tune into some meditation sounds, but if you do that, you can expect that you will be moving slower.
You do not need to walk fast to gain the health benefits. You just need to walk. When you add speed, you get the cardio benefits of the exercise, but just moving more is enough to benefit your health.
If you have a smart phone, you could even use a GPS app for navigating outdoor walking routes and exploring the great outdoors.
The only gadget you need to keep you going towards your target is a pedometer. Choosing one is a completely different thing though because there are different pedometers for different purposes so you need to know the purpose you will use it for.
Pedometer for all day use
The most basic pedometer just attaches to your belt and it runs all day, counting the total steps you take. This is ideal if you just want to know how much walking you do in a day, or in an hour if you choose to use it just or a walking working.
Tracking your walking
Other pedometers come with additional tracking capabilities. These can be used during a walking workout where you set yourself an hour or so and challenge yourself to take a thousand steps and then stop. In addition to the workout tracking, they can also reset at the end of the day and keep track of your total steps for the day and store the information for reference. This will give you useful information on your progression.
Other useful features available on pedometers include:
- Pulse monitor
- Estimation of calories burned (ideal if you’re trying to lose weight)
- stopwatch (useful for indoor walking on the spot or using a stepper)
- A distance estimation
- The speed you walk at
Shedding a few pounds or more through walking
Walking can indeed help those of you who want to drop some weight. It’s estimated that you can burn an average of 100 calories per mile walked, although that is dependent on the pace you walk at, and whether it’s uphill, downhill, or on the flat.
For weight loss purposes, five miles can burn off 500 calories, but you need to factor in your diet.
If you intend to walk more for the purpose of losing weight, you should know the ideal calories to set as your goal. That should be no more than 500 calories per day. Those 500 calories are not lost by walking for 5 miles though. You will need to track your calorie consumption and combine the amount of calories you eat in a day with the distance you have walked.
If you are able to drop 100 calories from your eating habits, and walk for four miles, you can expect to cut 500 calories that day through a combination of exercise and diet. A pedometer that can estimate the amount of calories burned from your walks will be beneficial.
Additional features on a pedometer will help you track your progress and give you the essential information to know where you are in terms of the goals you have set.
Push past the itching of walking
This might sound weird, but if you’re not someone who does not move around a lot, then you might experience itching when you start walking. This is common and it’s usually just dry skin that’s the problem, although it has been claimed to be linked to poor circulation.
The winter weather heightens dry skin and that just irritates the problem. Breathable clothes are best to reduce itchiness, but the other thing that you can do is just use moisturiser on your legs.
Sweat intensifies dry skin and makes you more itchy. You can reduce that by locking in moisture before you begin walking and you will find it relieves the itchy sensations that can happen when you first begin walking more than usual.
Use the Talk Test to Set Your Walking Pace
When you’re walking for fitness, there’s a balance you need to find between too fast and too slow. The simplest way to know whether to speed up or slow your pace down is to use the talk test.
If you are so out of breath that you can’t speak a sentence or hold a conversation without gasping for breath, then you’re walking too fast. This is one of the reasons that you are advised to have a fitness partner.
If you can sing a song while you’re walking, then you’re walking too slow.
A good ideal walking target to set as your goal is to walk a mile in fifteen minutes. That’s the average walking speed, but if you’re already at that pace, then you can speed the pace up before you take on running.
Once you get good at walking and can maintain the same pace for an hour, you can power it up with speed walking. The difference between speed walking and running is that the heel touches the ground when you walk and in running it doesn’t.
Many people find it harder to speed walk than they do running. Once you’ve mastered your walking technique though, you’ll be able to advance to a pace and style that suits your preference.
Take to walking first and before you know it, you’ll have the fitness levels needed to begin entering sponsored walks for charity, races, and eventually perhaps even marathons. You might even find you enjoy the sport so much that you venture into the world of walking tourism. There’s plenty of areas here and abroad where you can explore various walking routes, take coastal walks as well as cross country hiking.
It just takes you to put one foot in front of the other, start challenging yourself to increase your heart rate, and continually walk to improve your health, and get yourself to your ideal body weight.