Walking for Weight Loss and Wellness
Let's begin by building your cardiovascular endurance or your aerobic fitness. One of the best exercises to improve your health and fitness is walking. Walking is the body's most natural form of movement. It has a low risk of injury, is easy to fit into your day, is inexpensive, and it delivers powerful results. Study after study confirms that people who walk regularly have lower risks of disease and higher levels of health. Walking is something you can enjoy all through your life. And, you can easily begin with a few minutes at a time and work up to walking a marathon if that is one of your goals.
Walking Means Fitness for Life
The most important benefits of walking are its convenience and its power to improve health and shape you up. You can walk indoors or outdoors, at any time of day, and in any type of weather. You can walk alone or use the time to catch up with friends, spend quality moments with a pet, or even to conduct business. You can use it to enhance your leisure activities like when you play golf or go hiking, or you can simply do it as a way to stay in shape and to release stress. Studies show that walking consistently helps you to:
Maintain a healthy weight
Reduce stress and tension
Improve mood and feelings of well-being
Increase muscle mass and burn fat mass
Strengthen the heart muscle
Improve the functioning of your circulatory system
Improve joint health
Lower risks of injury
Tone muscles for a firm and fit appearance
All you need to do is lace up your sneakers and begin.
Walking for Your Wedding Workout Program
Your wedding workout program is based on a walking program to improve your cardiovascular fitness. If you enjoy other aerobic activities such as swimming, cycling, running, or cross-country skiing, that's great. Feel free to substitute those activities for the walking programs that are described. Because walking is the easiest, most economical, and most widely accessible aerobic activity for all people, this workout is based on a walking program.
Moderate intensity walking on a daily basis is the most effective way for people to lose weight and keep it off. This is based on data from the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have been able to lose at least 10 percent or more of their body weight and keep it off for more than five years.
Keep in mind that walking is not for wimps. Walking, while suitable for people who are older, is also an activity that can be tremendously challenging. Many people have lost hundreds of pounds successfully through consistent walking. If you haven't been a walking enthusiast before, give it a try. You may find that the pleasure and variety of walking daily is so great, that you'll soon be hooked as are millions of other Americans.
In fact, more than seventy million Americans walk for fitness and health. More and more parks and recreation centers are improving walking paths and accessibility to encourage more physical activity. Check your local community events to find walk-friendly paths and whether organized walks are being offered.
What to Wear
Walking is fortunately an economical activity. Your most important and significant investment is in the shoes that you wear. Take time to find a comfortable, sturdy shoe that fits the needs of your foot and provides good arch support. Shoe technology these days is quite sophisticated. Go to a reputable athletic footwear store that allows returns if the shoe is not a good fit for you. While this may cost a few more dollars initially, you will benefit from this personal attention during your first purchase. Once you know the brand and size that works for you, you can look for more economical options (such as ordering online).
If you plan to walk both at home and at the office, consider investing in two pairs of shoes. This way you can always leave a pair at work. Otherwise, you will have to carry your shoes daily. It's important to make getting active as easy as possible. Again, while this represents a bigger investment in the beginning, it will pay multiple dividends over time in your improved health and quality of life.
Buy shoe inserts. Today's shoes do not come with insoles that last as long as the outer parts of the shoes, but the cushioning that provides you with support is essential for comfort. When you purchase your shoes, ask the salesperson to also help you to find an appropriate insole. This will make a tremendous difference in your long-term comfort.
When purchasing walking sportswear, look for fabrics that breathe. Many modern fabrics also feature wicking qualities that actually draw your perspiration away from your skin. This can definitely enhance your walking comfort. Be sure to wear an athletic sports bra. Comfort is your primary objective. Wear bright colors to make sure that you are visible to any traffic. You can purchase reflector vests as well that improve your visibility.
Sun protection is also important. Be sure to wear sunscreen. Hats are also a good idea to protect your face. Depending on how sensitive you are to sun exposure, you may want to purchase a hat that also shields the back of your neck. Sunglasses provide coverage for your eyes. Choose a lightweight and comfortable pair. More than anything, you want your time during your walks to be as enjoyable as possible. Find accessories that work best for you. For more detailed information on clothing and accessories, review Chapter 2.
While it's not necessary to purchase a pedometer, it's a great tool to measure your progress and keep you motivated. Studies show that if you take 10,000 steps on most days of the week, you'll realize many health benefits. These steps do not have to be performed at a particular intensity level or for a specific duration. What they represent is that you have maintained a level of daily activity that contributes to your health.
Wearing a pedometer motivates you because it helps you monitor exactly how much you move around during the day. If you've had a busy, active day, you can supplement that with a short walk to reach your daily goal. If your day has been fairly inactive, then you can save time for a longer walk. This can help you to become more active every day, which makes a significant difference in your overall calorie burn as well as your health and well-being. Studies show that wearing a pedometer causes people to move more and to lose weight successfully.
A Water Bottle
Staying properly hydrated is essential for good health. If you are taking short walks, it's not necessary to carry a water bottle with you. However, if you're going for walks that are longer than an hour, it's a good idea to either bring your own water or choose a route that goes by water fountains. Some companies create belt packs that serve as water bottle carriers that are handy for longer walks. Most important, remember to drink plenty of fluids before and after your walk, as well as during your walk.
You can walk indoors at a shopping mall or on a treadmill. You can walk outdoors through your neighborhood or at local parks or schools. Regardless of where you walk, you need to warm up your body to prepare it for getting active. When you first start out, start at a comfortable pace. Let your arms hang naturally at your sides and swing rhythmically with each step. Stand up as tall as you can and maintain good posture.
After about five minutes of walking, if you enjoy performing some stretches to make your walk more comfortable, you can. Do not hold the stretches for more than ten to twenty seconds, however, because you do not want to cool down and lose the benefits of your warm-up. After you complete your stretches, continue with your walk.
Posture is the most important aspect of walking technique. Stand tall with your ears in line with your shoulders, arms at your sides, shoulders above hips, and abdominal muscles slightly pulled in to actively support your lower back. If you want to increase the intensity of your walk, bend your elbows at a ninety-degree angle, and swing your arms more vigorously. Take more steps, rather than longer strides. Hold your head upright rather than down to maintain good posture. If you need to look at the ground, lower your eyes, instead of your entire head. Strike heel first and push forward through the ball of your foot, actively using all your leg muscles. Keep your elbows in at your sides. Avoid swinging your arms across your body.
Meditation can help you keep yourself from being stressed about your wedding while you're walking. If you can't stop your constant flurry of thoughts, a little mental discipline is in order. Meditation will help you to quiet the internal chatter and get a handle on things so you can focus on your priorities and accomplish more.
Walking Cool Down
After you finish the brisk part of your walk, take time to slowly bring your body back to the way it felt when you began. Relax your breathing and calm your heart rate. You only need to spend a few minutes on your walking cool down, but be sure to take this time.
After your walk is a great time to include some final stretches. Unlike the beginning of your walk, your muscles are warm and ready to enjoy a long stretch. Breathe deeply and hold each stretch anywhere from twenty to thirty seconds. A good rule of thumb is to hold each stretch for at least three deep breath cycles. A breath cycle equals one inhalation and one exhalation. Enjoy your stretches and your feeling of accomplishment. You've just made a great positive effort to enhance your health. Enjoy the moment and feel good about yourself.