Your Walking Workouts

When you first start walking, go ahead and break up your workouts into several small workouts during the day. This helps you to increase your conditioning gradually and allows you to fit it easily into your day. If your goal is simply to improve your health, research substantiates that as little as thirty minutes a day is sufficient activity to get results. You can even split that time into three ten-minute bouts.

Building a Base

For the first two months, your goal when you start aerobic training is to build a conditioning base. The following is a progressive six-week program that gradually increases in difficulty each week. If you reach a point where you feel that it's too much, then repeat the prior week's program until you feel ready to challenge the next level of difficulty. For weeks seven and eight, simply repeat week six until you can comfortably complete the fifty-five minute to one hour walk.

Many of the walks are broken up into shorter walks throughout the day because you're likely to be so busy with all of your wedding preparations and other commitments that you'll have a hard time getting started with your exercise. The biggest reason people fail to exercise is because they believe they don't have time. You can find time for ten minutes, and even a ten-minute walk is better than no walk. Also, breaking up your walking throughout the day gives your metabolism periodic bursts for more calorie burning.

Remember that increasing your lifestyle activity as discussed in Chapter 3 is critically important — do these walks as part of your normal schedule. For example, park further away or get off the commuter train one stop earlier so that you can complete two of your twenty-minute walks when you travel to and from the office. Do extra laps around the grocery store to fit in a ten-minute walk. Be creative and add more steps at every available chance throughout the day and brainstorm even more ways to create additional walking opportunities.

Table 14-1: Beginning 6- to 8-Week Walking Program

Week

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thurs

Fri

Sat

Sun

1

1-3 10-min walks

Rest or 10-min walk

1-3 10 min-walks

Rest or 10-min walk

1-3 10-min walks

Rest or 10-min walk

1 20-min walk and 1 10-min walk

2

1 15-min walk

2 15-min walks

Rest or 1 15-min walk

2 20-min walks

1 10- to 15-min walk

1 20-min walk and 1 25-min walk

Rest

3

1 25-min walk and 1 15-min walk

1 15-min walk

2 20-min walks

1 10-15-min walk or rest

1 30-min walk

Rest

1 35-min walk

4

1 15-min walk

2 20-min walks

1 15-min walk

1 30-min walk and 1 20-min walk

Rest or 1 10-15-min walk

1 35-min walk

1 30-min walk or 2 15-min walks

5

1 25-min walk and 1 20-min walk

1 10-20-min walk

2 20-min walks

1 15-20-min walk

3 15-min walks

Rest

1 45-min walk

6

3 20-min walks

1 15-25-min walk

1 35-min walk

Rest

1 55-60-min walk

Rest or 1 15-20-min walk

1 30-min walk

Setting Your Walking Pace

When it comes to setting your walking pace, start with what you can do comfortably today and increase your ability to walk more quickly as your conditioning improves. To learn how to judge pace, time yourself as you walk around a track for four laps. This will give you your one mile per hour pace. An alternative way to measure your pace is to count how many steps that you take in one minute, and compare with the categories below. The following are four progressive pace levels:

  • Easy Stroll: Slower than three miles per hour, which is greater than a twenty-minute mile pace. This is fewer than 105 steps per minute.

  • Health Walk: At least three miles per hour, which equals a twenty-minute per mile pace. This is approximately 105 steps per minute.

  • Fitness Walk: At least four miles per hour, which equals a fifteen-minute per mile pace. This is approximately 140 steps per minute. You should break a light sweat.

  • Power or Race Walk: At least five miles per hour, which equals a twelve-minute per mile pace. This is approximately 175 steps per minute. You should be sweating.

Depending on your level of fitness, you may not be able to walk at a faster pace from the beginning of your program. Do your best and increase the briskness of your walk as your fitness improves. For every workout, start out and cool down with at least five minutes of easy strolling. If weight loss is a goal, work up to a minimum of a health walk pace for sixty minutes each day. The good news is that this can be broken up into several short walks and still achieve the same weight loss results.

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