You’re prepared to start walking frequently. Is it just a matter of getting there and moving forward with one foot in front of the other then?
Even if it is the fundamental idea, there are specifics to consider when beginning a walking program that will help you do so safely and in a way that maximizes the advantages you gain from it.
The fact that practically everyone already walks is one of the best things about walking as a form of exercise. Making the everyday activity a workout is as simple as raising the quantity and, in most cases, the speed of your walking, according to walking instructor and 15-time US Champion racewalker Dave McGovern, author of The Complete Guide to Competitive Walking.
Here is everything you need to know about beginning a walking program, including choosing the proper pace, safety precautions, and creating a training schedule that is suitable for you, regardless of your level of physical activity.
Choose Your Speed
According to Amanda Paluch, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst who studies physical activity, epidemiology, and kinesiology, every step you take counts toward your physical activity. However, the best way to use walking to improve your fitness is to increase your distance and walking time.
She advises striving for moderate-intensity exercise, commonly referred to as low-intensity steady-state (LISS) exercise: “During this effort, your breathing and pulse rate will be slightly raised. You can talk but cannot sing is an excellent test.
Get the Right Gear: The Right Shoes Are Important for Walking
The lack of fancy attire or equipment is one of the best things about walking workouts. Despite this, one of the most crucial components is footwear. Although you won’t require unique footwear for slower strolls as opposed to faster strolls, McGovern advises that you opt for a low-heeled running shoe.
Carrie Boyle, a walking coach with the online walking program 99 Walks and a NASM-certified personal trainer, advises visiting your neighborhood running store so that a staff member may evaluate your gait and help you choose the right shoe if you have any questions about what shoes are ideal for you.
As for what to wear, Boyle advises against purchasing a new walking outfit unless, of course, you feel inspired or motivated to do so. If not, go through your closet and select clothes that meet the requirements of being cozy, permeable, and layerable, as needed. Cotton clothing appeals to her since it is breathable.
Guidelines for Walking Safely
It’s crucial to exercise safety while out on your walks. According to McGovern, there are five safety checks you should perform before every walk:
Keep your earbuds in your home. While he adds that he discourages this when walking outside, McGovern says, “I recognize that a lot of walkers like to listen to music while exercising.” “Staying safe when training outdoors requires being aware of your surroundings.” He claims that the noise makes it harder to hear oncoming traffic, animals, or humans.
Step forward in the right direction. You should walk facing traffic since you are a human and not a car, advises McGovern.
Keep your ID on you. The Road iD, a metal tag you can personalize with information like your name, city, state, emergency contacts, allergies, and medical history, and connect to a band or a fitness tracker, is a favorite of McGovern’s. The Road Runners Club of America suggests hiding your driver’s license in your cellphone case, in a safe pocket on your running belt, or both. proper up arrow
Identify your habits. Mention the path you’re taking if someone is home, and share your usual walking routes with friends and family in general. Avoid unpopulated regions, desolate streets, overgrown trails, and dark roadways, advises McGovern.
Make yourself known. Wear reflective gear, advises McGovern, if you want to stroll before dawn, throughout, or after dusk. Additionally available are armbands and vests with lights for increased visibility. Wearing bright colours will make you more apparent to other people on the road, including cars, cyclists, and pedestrians, at any time of day.
The Warm-Up Before Your Walking Workout
What is a walk’s proper warm-up? Walking. According to McGovern, you may warm up in most cases by starting your workout by walking at a slower pace and increasing your pace over time.
He advises performing a few dynamic flexibility exercises like leg swings, hip circles, and walking toe touches if you intend to walk very quickly. To perform these exercises, you should stand and grab onto something while swinging one leg in front of you and then behind you. The objective is to gradually introduce some movement to the muscles and joints your workout will be using.
If you’re planning on walking at a very fast pace, he recommends doing a few dynamic flexibility drills, such as leg swings (stand and hold onto something while swinging one leg in front and then behind you), hip circles, and walking toe touches. The idea is that you want to introduce some gentle movement to the muscles and joints you’ll be calling on during your workout.
A walking training program of four weeks
Finding your baseline is the first thing to do if you are just starting off with walking training.
Dr. Paluch advises that if you have a step counter, you should wear it for a few days to get your average daily step count. Then you can gradually work your way up to 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day by increasing this by 1,000 steps every day. (Why is it that much? According to her study, advantages peaked at 10,000 steps per day, and walking 7,000 steps per day was associated with a decreased risk of death compared to those who did not.)
Paluch advises concentrating on duration if you don’t want to track steps. She suggests beginning with adding 10-minute walks on most days of the week and gradually increasing the length of those walks by 5 to 10 minutes each week. The target would be 150 to 300 minutes of walking per week, she explains.
Boyle advises scheduling at least one day of rest or activity-based recuperation every week.
Pay attention to your body here. Boyle advises using the time you would have spent walking to do something for yourself instead, such as meditating, reading, or cook, if you feel like you need a whole day off from physical activity. According to her, active recovery entails engaging in a scaled-down form of the activity or a complementing activity. For example, you could go for a short stroll without trying to increase your heart rate, practice mild yoga, or go swimming lightly.