It’s been a while since I wrote about any exercise on this blog.
I have started walking more regularly because I have an accountability partner! To make walking even easier, enlist a friend or family member to walk with you. Both of you will reap the benefits of walking when consistently using a healthy walking technique. One of my closest friends and I have started walking 3 times a week. I’m excited about how this will work.
In celebration of my new-found exercise plans, this post reviews tips about how to make your walking regimen as successful as possible.
Successful Walking Tips
Have a Good Technique
Walking, as a way to improve your health and trim your waistline, requires the use of a good walking technique. Specifically, a good walking technique involves:
- Using good form by looking forward and not down with your eyes when walking; this way your neck, shoulders, and back all stay in a straight vertical straight line with your head.
- Giving some 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.
- Tightening your abdominal core when walking. A strong core gives your body good posture and helps keep your head, neck, shoulders, and back in alignment.
- Making sure as you take steps forward, your foot contacts the ground on the outside of your heel first. 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.
Work out (Almost) Daily
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends moderate exercise at least 2 1/2 hours each week to stay healthy. For most of us, this can be broken down into 30-minute increments of walking five days per week, interspersed with one day of strength training and resting on the seventh day, to round out your weekly healthy walking plan.
We are walking for almost an hour 3 times a week. I guess we are within the suggested range.
Set Goals You Can Reach
If you’re extremely out of shape and have not exercised for a while, start slow. 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. Don’t forget your walking technique!
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. Your goal, between walking and other steps you take each day, should add up to 10,000 per day.
Tracking Your Progress
Tracking your progress is the part that gives you the motivation to stick to your healthy walking plan. While you can keep track of your walking time by manually writing down the minutes walked in a journal, it’s a difficult way to keep track if you exercise throughout the day. Instead, use technology to track your steps walked instead of time spent exercising. There are several different ways to track steps walked:
An accelerometer differs from a pedometer in that it measures a mechanical motion (walking) against a frame of reference and converts it into an electronic signal outputted as steps taken, calories burned, and distance walked. One of the leaders in this wearable technology is FitBit. Their products can also synch up with an app loaded on your computer, so you have an online journal of your activity.
Pedometers differ from accelerometers in the way they measure steps. They count the number of strides taken over time, meaning you have to input the length of your stride in order for them to accurately measure the number of steps taken. While not as accurate as an accelerometer, they are less expensive. You also usually have to manually track your progress.
Applications and programs to track your walking fitness plan progress come in both free and paid versions. One free program from the website Spark People makes it easy to track nutrition, fitness, and weight. For a paid program, try Fitness Journal. For $3.95 per month, you can track the same information, plus a lot more, including when your walking shoes need replacing. It also allows you to journal your progress and creates various charts and graphs making it easy to see your progress. For an entire list of online tracking options, search “Online Fitness Journals”.
Applications that run on your smartphone is another way to track your walking fitness. While there are many applications you can use, one of the most popular one for the iPhone or Android is MapMyRun. With this app, it uses your smartphones’ GPS capability to not only track steps taken, but duration, distance, calories burned, and even the route you took. It also has the capability to journal your progress online.
With so many walking fitness tracking tools available, there really isn’t a reason to not start a walking fitness plan. Buy either a pedometer or accelerometer and start documenting your walking accomplishments today. Before you know it, you will be at goal.
I will need to purchase my own FitBit or similar product one day. However, right now, my friend maps our steps while we are walking on her FitBit. So, that can be a later purchase. I think our walking technique is pretty solid though — we both have been walking on and off for several years.
Have you ever worked out with an accountability partner? How did that work out for you? Talk about it in the comments?
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