One of the most affordable, convenient and easiest ways to stay in shape is walking. Whether you trek the neighborhood trails, take to the treadmill in your basement, or do laps around the mall with friends, there are plenty of places where you can walk. There are plenty of benefits too. If you become serious about walking as your way to better your fitness level, there are some tools you can use to help you get the most out of your walks:
- Pedometers—It measures your progress. It’s great to set a daily goal and then achieve it. Ideally, you want to get 10,000 steps per day. But if you are not there yet, keep increasing your steps by 2000 every two weeks until you reach the 10,000.
- Weights—Use hand weights to increase the intensity of the walk and to tone your arms at the same time. Hold up to 5lb dumbbells in your hands and swing your arms naturally. Don’t use ankle weights; using ankle weights when walking puts undo stress on your ankles and knees.
- What to wear—For your maximum comfort and safety (think knees and feet): If you are walking by the road or at the mall, a pair of walking sneakers are the best. If you are out on the trails, hiking boots or good supportive sneakers are needed. You want to make sure you have support for your ankles when you are walking on uneven surfaces.
- Trekking poles/walking sticks—When you’re out on the trail and you need something to give you support, try a walking stick or trekking poles. It helps support your back, hips, legs and knees. It is also handy to help you cross streams or go over a log you come across on the trail.
Make your walk a productive walk. In order to better your fitness level you have to get your heart rate up. Take 5 minutes to warm up, then walk at a productive rate for 20 minutes and cool down for 5 minutes. When you are in the productive walk time, take your pulse either on your neck or on your wrist. Count the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiply it by 6. You want to be in your target heart rate zone.
Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist who specializes in helping people lose hundreds of pounds. Learn more at www.FittingFitnessIn.com.