Walking for health or weight loss is something to work up to. If you haven't exercised recently or regularly, you will need to start slowly. But even with our "Getting Started" plan, you'll see results within a couple of weeks.
It seems silly to talk about the right or wrong way to walk, but you'll get better results and fewer sore muscles if you follow these general guidelines:
- Always warm up at a comfortable pace for about five minutes. This prepares the muscles and lubricates your joints. Cool down at the end of your session by returning to this comfortable pace for five more minutes.
- Stand up straight, but stay relaxed. Let your arms swing naturally, and walk with a feeling of purpose.
- As your speed increases, bend your elbows so your forearms are parallel to the ground, "pumping" your arms as you walk. Don't clench your fists.
- Land heel, ball, toe. Roll from the heel to the ball of your foot, then push off the forefoot. Don't hyperextend or "lock" the knees.
- Although you can walk in most any comfortable shoes, you'll eventually benefit from models designed for fitness walking. Any well-stocked athletic footwear store can help you find a walking shoe that suits your needs.
- Don't exercise when you are sick or feeling under the weather.
- When exercising in hot weather, drink extra water before and during your workout. Stop immediately if you feel faint or weak. Better yet, find a cooler place or time of day to walk.
Each of our three fitness walking plans is designed with a specific person in mind:
- If you're new to exercise, you'll want our First Steps plan.
- Have you reached a "plateau" in your current walking plan? Try our Speed Circuit plan.
- Walkers who are ready for a real challenge should try our Maximum Burn plan.
For most folks, moderate exercise is safe. However, there are situations where exercise, even modest effort, can be dangerous. Here are some things to consider before and during your workouts:
If at any time you feel chest pain, experience severe muscular discomfort, feel faint, or are short of breath, stop exercising immediately. If the condition persists, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Do not begin this or any exercise program without first consulting a physician, especially if:
- You have family history of heart disease
- You're a female over 50 or a male over 40
Or if you possess two or more of the following risk factors:
- You smoke
- You are in the habit of eating high-fat foods
- You currently do not exercise
- You have high blood pressure
- You have higher than normal cholesterol levels
- You experience shortness of breath during exercise
- You have a chronic condition
Continued on page 3: First-Steps Plan