A Guide to a Healthy Walking Habit
Walking is my favorite form of exercise. It gets you out in nature or the world, and it’s gentle on your joints and feels very natural.
To get the most out of walking as a way to improve your health and trim your waistline, you should try to use good technique. Yes, believe it or not, there is technique involved in walking! The main element is your walking form 🙂
Check out these tips to walking with good technique/form:
- Look forward and not down with your eyes when walking; this way your neck, shoulders and back all stay in good alignment, and you don’t put under strain on them.
- Add rhythm to your walk by naturally swinging your arms; to get even more benefit out of your walk and to burn more calories, use light hand weights and “work” your arms in a back-and-forth pumping motion.
- Tighten your abdominal core when walking. A strong core helps maintain good posture–good alignment of your head, neck, shoulders and back.
- Make sure as you take steps forward, your foot contacts the ground on the outside of your heel first and as your step progresses, your weight should shift inside to your arch and then shift back to the ball of your foot and finally to your toes where you push off for your next step. (don’t obsess about this, but this is the best form :))
To get the most overall from your walking workouts, also bear in mind these 3 tips:
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate exercise at least 2 1/2 hours each week to stay healthy. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this and a lot of opinions on the best way 🙂 If you choose walking, this can be broken down into 30-minute walks, five days per week. Add in some form of strength training (yoga, for example) 2-3 days a week and voila! You have a healthy exercise plan.
Set Realistic Goals
If you are extremely out of shape and have not exercised for a while, start slow and be persistent. Once cleared by your doctor to exercise, try walking five minutes per day for the first week. Increase this amount by five minutes each week. After 6 weeks, you will be walking 30 minutes per day!
If you can’t find a 30-minute chunk of time to walk, you get the same benefit by walking twice a day for 15 minutes each time or even three 10-minute daily walks. I personally love short workouts and when there is inclement weather, I use various walking dvd routines, like this one by Jessica Smith (I love her).
Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress is the part that gives you the motivation to stick to your healthy walking plan. Today, there are several electronic “tools” on the market to make tracking easy. Invest in a good pedometer or accelerometer to keep track of how many steps you walk each day. Your goal, between walking and other steps you take each day, should add up to 10,000 per day.
Fitbit has a wide variety to choose from and is another good tracking tool if you like to monitor heart rate and other type health indicators 🙂
Benefits of Walking
Besides losing weight and getting healthier, following a walking plan can lift your mood, improve coordination, strengthen bones, and even prevent or negate the effects of various illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. If you can enlist a friend or family member to walk with you, you can add social benefits to your walking practice!
Get moving! This mug from my gearbubble shop can serve as a reminder!