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Start Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss

Updated on January 9, 2015

Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss

Are you serious about starting a fitness and weight loss program? If the answer is yes, fitness walking is one of the fastest ways for you to accomplish your goals. Fitness walking merely involves walking at a fast pace. My usual pace for fitness walking is 3.7 miles per hour. It’s a great exercise because it is low impact, is easy to do and you can adjust your pace based upon your fitness level.

Make sure you have the following before starting a fitness walking program:

  1. heart rate monitor;
  2. walking shoes;
  3. a water bottle; and
  4. headband, if you’re like me and your scalp sweats a lot. Trust me, this is a necessity and will make your exercise session much more comfortable.

Using a heart rate monitor is a great way for you to monitor the intensity of your fitness walking program, ensure a safe and consistent walking pace and track your progress. You may want to ask your doctor to recommend an exercise target heart rate for you to start walking at.

In order for your fitness and weight loss program to be effective you need to fitness walk at least 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes. Start out slow and you can increase the intensity, duration and frequency as your fitness level improves.

Fitness Walking and Treadmills

I only recommend treadmills for fitness walking, not jogging or running because I prefer low impact aerobic exercises. If you are just starting your fitness and weight loss program, here are some guidelines:

  1. walk 20-30 minutes, 3 days per week for at least one week before increasing your workout;
  2. start walking at a brisk pace that is comfortable for you and that you can maintain during your entire workout;
  3. use a heart rate monitor and walk at your fat burning rate which is 60%-70% of your maximum heart rate, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. (Your maximum heart rate is computed as follows: 220 - your age = max heart rate.) Your fat burning rate is considered low to moderate intensity and good for fitness, health, weight loss and endurance. Most treadmills will adjust the incline or you can adjust the speed in order to maintain a steady heart rate.
  4. Remember to breath steady and regularly. Breath deeply in through your nose and exhale steadily through your mouth. Try to breath as consistently as possible and focus on your breathing as you are walking. Breathing in this manner will prevent most people from losing their breath or huffing and puffing while they are exercising. This form of breathing also has a calming effect similar to meditation.
  5. If you can not keep your breath steady or you can not work out for at least 20 minutes at your fat burning rate, you need to lower the intensity of your fitness walking. Try lowering your exercise heart rate by 5-10 beats per minute and continue doing so until you find a heart rate that you can maintain for 20 minutes.
  6. Make sure you drink plenty of water as you are fitness walking.

Follow the above guidelines and adjust your fitness walking as your fitness level improves. It should not be long before you begin to see results with respect to both fitness and weight loss. You know that your fitness level is improving when:

  1. you are no longer breathing heavily while fitness walking. This means your lung capacity and cardiovascular fitness is improving;
  2. you are not sweating as much during your workout;
  3. the treadmill keeps increasing the incline in order to maintain your fat burning heart rate. This means that your heart is getting stronger.

Once you start to notice some of the above improvements, it may be time to increase the duration of your workouts, increase the frequency of your workouts or increase the intensity of your workouts. You increase the intensity of your fitness walking program by increasing your exercise target heart rate. You can either increase the intensity for your entire workout or for a portion of your workout. Mix it up so that you do not get bored and you continue to experience improvements in both fitness and weight loss.

When you see improvement or reach milestones, you should celebrate. Give yourself a reward, you deserve it.

Here are some additional tips to maximize weight loss:

  1. add some strength training to your program. This helps to ensure your lose fat and not muscle;
  2. do your fitness walking early in the morning before you eat. You should burn more fat versus burning the food that you just ate;
  3. eat six small meals instead of 3 large meals. This will increase your metabolism and burn more calories.;
  4. drink lots of water. This will flush out your system, keep you hydrated and prevent your body from storing excess water reserves.
  5. eat a balanced diet. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat meals.

Remember the basic rule: in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than your consume.

Fitness Walking is the Best Exercises for Weight Loss

Fitness walking is one of the best exercises for weight loss, your heart and to strengthen your leg muscles. It is an exercise that can be done anywhere, is easy to do and is low impact. The intensity of your fitness walking program can be modified depending upon your goals. A high intensity program is great to build cardiovascular capacity and endurance. A low intensity program is geared towards weight loss.

Before beginning any fitness walking program you need the following:

  1. consult your doctor and have a physical examination;
  2. buy a good pair of walking shoes;
  3. buy a heart rate monitor; and
  4. buy a water bottle.

A heart rate monitor should be worn while fitness walking to track the intensity of your workout. If your goal is weight loss, you will be walking at a lower heart rate than if your goal is to optimize cardiovascular capacity. Most people design a fitness walking program that accomplishes both weight loss and enhances aerobic capacity.

If your fitness walking goals include both weight loss and aerobic fitness, consider the following:

  1. alternate days between your lower fat burning heart rate and your higher aerobic heart rate; or
  2. exercise the first 15 minutes at your lower fat burning heart rate and the last 15 minutes at your higher aerobic heart rate.

The beauty of fitness walking is that you can adjust the intensity to suit your fitness level and the best way to do this is with a heart rate monitor. When you first start your fitness walking program, you may reach your target heart rate with minimal exertion. However the more you exercise, the more you will need to exert yourself to reach the same target heart rate. The fact that you need to work harder to reach your target heart rate is proof that your heart is becoming healthier.

Fitness Walking on a Treadmill

Fitness walking can either be done outside or on a treadmill. The advantages of using a treadmill is that:

  1. you can exercise regardless of the weather;
  2. it is easier to maintain a steady heart rate with a treadmill; and
  3. the treadmilll can increase the incline without you having to find a hill to exercise on.

Most newer treadmills will automatically adjust the incline to maintain your target heart rate. All you need to do is program basic information into the treadmill and it takes care of the rest. It makes your fitness walking program very easy.

Although using a treadmill in your fitness walking program makes it easier to stay on track, it can become a little boring at times. In order to add variety you may want to:

  1. modify the intensity from work out to workout;
  2. alternate between walking outside and using a treadmill; and
  3. exercise 20 minutes on a treadmill and use a stationary bike or different exercise for the remaining 20 minutes; etc.

A fitness walking program should contain variety to keep you interested and challenged. When your fitness improves, it may be harder to get your heart rate high enough on a treadmill without running. If this happens, consider working your upper body while walking on the treadmill. Working your upper body as part of your fitness walking program will enable you to accomplish the following:

  1. increase your heart rate;
  2. obtain a total body work out; and
  3. burn more calories with the same amount of exercise time.

Use your imagination, there are many upper body exercises that you can include in your fitness walking program. You can swing your arms in front as you walk, you can use small dumb bells and alternate raising your arms from shoulder level to over your head, etc.

In order to obtain a weight loss or aerobic benefit from your fitness walking program, you should walk a mimimum of 30 minutes 2-3 times per week. If you are not used to exercising, start slow and increase as your heart becomes stronger. Remember that your heart rate monitor is the best way to track your fitness level and determine the proper intensity. Your heart rate measures how hard your heart is exercising. Before beginning a fitness walking program or any exercise program, consult your physician. Your doctor will advise you about your target exercise heart rate. Do it, but don’t over do it.

Fitness walking is easy and extremely beneficial. It is a great life long exercise for people of all ages. So get walking and stick with it.

Nordic walking

After the discovery that I have problems with cardio vascular system I followed the advice of the attending physician and started walking in the fresh air. And because walking on the asphalt in a dusty and filled with gases city would have brought all my attempts to improve my health down to zero, I chose the nearest forest and began “visiting” it, combining walking with the contemplation of nature and active ventilation of the lungs with oxygen. I have to admit that there were no improvements in my physical condition whatsoever, although a walk in the forest was a pleasure, both calming and inspiring for philosophical attitude to life. In order to lose weight (I have weight problems) and to strengthen my flabby muscles- more vigorous loads were required. The doctor recommended along with walking, that I should swim in a pool, where I would for sure receive some steady loads. However, that would work if I attended swimming lessons regularly and anyway I am not so good at swimming.

And behold, on one of the walks in a summer forest I have met an old man on the path who was energetically waving his hands while walking. When I got near him my attention was drawn to the sticks in his hands. Poles were very similar to the ones in skiing, but with some tricky anchorages. Seeing on my face a rather surprised expression, old man explained that he is searching for his skis from last winter, then gave a smile and hurried away into the depths of the forest. And then I realized how to achieve perfect health and good spirit.

Praise the Internet! All the information about this type (rather popular now) of fitness I found pretty easily. It turns out that walking with a cane is a great way to make physical activity interesting, with the best possible positive effect but at the same time very accessible. Everyone can practice this “sport”, regardless of age and especially those who lead a "sedentary way of life". This sport is called “Nordic walking” and it has already captured more than six million people worldwide. Along with the loss of more calories than during normal walking, Nordic walking with a pole is capable of training heart muscles, helps to lose weight effectively, tighten muscles of the legs, the press and the shoulder belt because in the process about 90% of body muscles are involved. Doctors calculated that Nordic walking increases the maximum oxygen consumption by 20-25% and that is approximately by 46% more efficient than normal walking. In order to maintain good physical shape it is enough to go Nordic walking three times per week for 30-40 minutes along your route. This wonderful power training (Nordic walking) increases both endurance and coordination. Changing the pace of Nordic walking, the length and complexity of the route, you get a great way to accurately dose and distribute the load during your training.

As a result, in half a year of systematic training with Nordic walking I have lost 7 kilos, significantly improved my health and problems with my heart does not worry me anymore. I’m always in a good mood.

Nordic walking – there is nothing easier! Nordic walking is a great way to improve health and to keep myself in shape. Now, when on the beaches of Europe and America there are people with ski poles in their hands no one is surprised. Nordic walking is rapidly spreading around the world, because as many physicians consider, in contrast to the usual running, walking, or gymnastics, this is far more beneficial for health and helps harmoniously develop the body.

Walking For Fitness

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    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 2 years ago from Canada

      I love this article! I am a big fan of walking, and have written about my passion, as well. I do live in a forest, and am a bit scared of bears, so tend to not walk as often as I should. Nordic walking sounds pretty good.

      Thanks for the great article. Sharing.