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Walking for Fitness by forrests

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									Walking for Fitness
Melissa L. Frain, M.S., AFAA-PFT Getting Started/Benefits Walking is one of the most effective forms of exercise. It can be done almost anywhere and it is free! Walking helps to improve your overall health and fitness and is a great way to lose weight, tone your muscles, strengthen your heart and instill a general feeling of well-being and positive self-esteem. Equipment Needed The most important thing worth investing in when it comes to walking is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Even athletic shoes that are more than 6 months old may not have enough cushioning to support you. You may choose either athletic shoes for sidewalks and roads or light hiking shoes (rugged walking shoes) if you venture out on trails.       Select shoes especially designed for walking, and they will be labeled as such. Running shoes are a second choice. Cross training shoes are a third best choice. You want a shoe that bends easily through the ball of the foot but remains fairly firm. A low heel works best, which is why a running shoe with thick cushioning in the heel is not the best choice. You might also want to invest in a pair of cushioned walking socks to give further protection to your feet. Average Shoe Lifespan: walking…500 miles running…350 miles Another indicator for new sneakers is if you feel any aches or pain in the lower body (i.e. knees, feet, hips, etc) Save your walking shoes by just wearing them for exercise.

Technique/Form  WATCH your posture. Stand tall. Hold your head up and eyes forward. Your shoulders should be down, back and relaxed. Tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks and fall into a natural stride.  It's best to have elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, the arms swinging freely so that they come up to about chest level, the fingers curled into a loose fist, and the feet moving forward at a brisk pace.  Take quicker steps, not longer. Your stride will lengthen as you speed up, but don’t force yourself to take longer steps. Increasing the length of your stride by taking longer unnatural steps may lead to potential back problems. How far? How much? The Surgeon General recommends moderate amounts of activities such as a brisk walk of at least 30 minutes a day every day for overall health.    If you are walking for the general health benefits try to walk 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, at a "talking" pace. (Talking pace means you have elevated breathing, but you can still carry a conversation.) To improve cardiovascular fitness you should walk 3 to 4 days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. At this pace you are breathing hard but not gasping for air. If you are walking for weight loss you should walk a minimum of five days a week, 45 to 60 minutes at a brisk pace.

Don’t know if you can do it? Start with what you can do. Although walking is a low-impact, moderate exercise, it is still possible to overdo it. If you treat your body gently at this stage and walk within your own fitness ability then you will find it easy to build up a fitness routine that you can keep up for the rest of your life. Pushing too hard at the beginning is one of the first reasons for giving up exercise routines.

Fit More Walking Into Your Day
At Work:  Park your car in the space that is the furthest away and walk to the office  If you take the train/bus get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way  Walk to work  On your lunch break go for a walk around the block  If you need to speak to somebody in the office walk over to them instead of phoning them  Don’t take the elevator, use the stairs With the Kids:  Walk the children to school/playgroup  Walk to the park and back with the kids during the weekend  Find the time for one walk each week with each child - make this your special time when the two of you are alone and you can chat/catch up  Make it your mission to plan a new walk for each weekend - look out for local parks, country walks, etc With Friends:  Plan to go walking for fitness once a week with a friend.  If you plan to meet friends walk to their house, or get them to meet you half way  Rather than meeting your friends for coffee, suggest going for a stroll At Home:  Get up early and go for a walk  Set a goal to walk up and down the stairs a certain amount of times per day  Walk your dog  Put the remote control away, get up and walk to the TV to change the channels

Safety tips for walking
It is very important that you keep safe and don’t put yourself at risk when walking:  Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your walk, especially if it’s a warm day  Make sure someone knows where you are and what time you are expected home  Think ahead and be aware of your surroundings  Always carry a small amount of emergency money and a mobile phone  Make yourself as visible as possible. Wear bright clothing during the day and white or reflective clothing at night  Wear appropriate footwear  Always walk facing oncoming traffic if you have to walk on the road

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