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The Proper Way to Walk for Weight Loss and Fitness

Updated on June 2, 2013

Simplest Way to Get Fit

To have a more energetic and a strong, fit body do something that comes naturally - walking. This is probably the reason why walking is the most popular fitness pastime. Here are tips to maximize your fitness walking experience.

Walking Warm-up

Stretch out your muscles before walking focusing mainly on the legs, torso, back and shoulders. Do not overexert your muscles. As you stretch, you should feel like you can hold this stretch forever.

Walk, Don't Run

Walk briskly just enough to raise your heart rate and reap the benefits of an aerobic exercise, but don't overdo it. Here are two ways to test the right pacing. First, by using a heart rate monitor, calculate your optimal heart rate for burning fat, then check your pulse periodically. To calculate this, subtract your age from 229 (that's your ideal maximum heart rate), then get 60 per cent and 80 per cent of that number. Your heart rate per minute during walking should fall somewhere between these two numbers. A simpler formula is the talk test. If you can't talk while walking, you're not getting enough oxygen, and rather than burning fat you're burning sugar.

Walking Posture

A good posture-perfect form is to walk with pelvis tucked, head up and relaxed shoulders. A natural stride should be maintained. If you prefer a quicker pace, speed up your steps instead of lengthening, or overextending your stride. Bend your elbows to create a nimbler arm swing, but make sure that your hands swing no higher than chest level and that they do not cross over the midpoint of the body. Avoid throwing your elbows out to the sides like chicken wings position - this will cause back strain and will throw you off-rhythm.

Walking apparel

To have a comfortable fitness walking experience it is wise to invest in some of the latest moisture-wicking synthetics. These materials allow moisture to evaporate faster to keep the body dry. In the cold season wear several layers of light garments instead of one or two heavy layers. The extra layers trap heat and are easy to shed if your body temperature rises excessively. If you walk outdoors in at dawn or in the evening, wear reflective clothing or a reflective band that strapped onto your arm or leg. It is also wise to invest on a pair of socks specifically designed for walking - the ones elasticized through the arch – a good treat for the feet.

Weights During Walking

Carrying hand weights is a great way for more advanced fitness walkers to increase their cardiovascular workout and to strengthen their upper bodies. Using ankle weights is not advisable because of the excessive pressure they place on the knees and hips.

Walking Shoes

There are shoes specifically made for walking while some are for running, but if you have running shoes, then these will do.. If there is none readily available, do wear an athletic shoe with adequate cushioning at the heel and ball of the foot. Make sure you wear shoes with roomy toe area and breathable synthetic material or perfo­rated leather uppers. Make sure your walking shoes provide the proper stability. If you have a tendency to over-pronate (roll too much toward the inside of your ankle), you will need a shoe with improved arch support in order to prevent possible strains. If you over-supinate (roll too much to the outside), you need to wear more flexible shoes to accommodate the roll. If you are unsure whether you over-pronate or over-supinate, seek advice from a podiatrist or an able staff at a reputable shoe store.


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