Fitness Walking:

Effective Exercise for Your Good Health

Over the last quarter of a century the exercise field has experienced one craze after another.  But only one activity – fitness walking – has shown steady growth in popularity.  Walking is a surprisingly effective strategy for life long health.  It is accessible to almost everyone.  You’ve done it all your life and you can continue to do it well into old age.  Walking also delivers proven benefits to all of the body’s major systems…muscles, bones, heart and circulation.  You can walk almost anywhere without special facilities or equipment.  Studies show that walkers travelling faster than five miles an hour actually burn twice as many calories as runners going the same speed.

 

When you begin a walking program, keep in mind that you’re in no big hurry.  This is lifetime health, not overnight magic.  At first, forget heart rates and stopwatches.  Just go for a walk at a comfortable pace slightly above a stroll.  You don’t have to walk any particular way, but there comes a point where refinements offer definite benefits.  The correct posture, arm swing and stride add up to higher-intensity exercise and lower risk of injury.

 

Posture:  When walking, lean slightly forward, from the ankles, not the waist.  Leaning from the waist will tire your back and make breathing harder.  Keep your head level and your chin up.

Arm Swing:  Keep your elbows bent firmly at a 90 degree angle, and swing your arms from the shoulder.  Your hand should end its forward swing at breastbone height.  On the back swing, if you’re moving fast, the upper arm is almost parallel to the ground.

Stride:  Make your stride long and smooth.  Borrow some moves from competitive race walkers:  Keep your supporting leg straight as your body passes over it, and let the hip rise and relax.  As that leg moves to the rear, keep its foot on the ground as long as possible before pushing it off.

 

Remember:  The proper technique is not as important as getting out there and doing something.  Keep in mind that healthy people are well overall; their activities help fend off heart disease and circulatory problems.  The key is to stay active.

 

Benefits:  If you are willing to devote three to five hours a week to walking,  you will benefit in several important ways:

 

-Cardiovascular fitness

-Lower cholesterol

-Hypertension reduction

-Weight loss

-Stress and fatigue control

-Osteoporosis and arthritis resistance

-Longevity

 

In addition to the above benefits, walking is an excellent technique to drain off panic and to prompt solutions to difficult problems.  The steady, rhythmic action of walking helps thinking, both conscious and subconscious.  This is not true of more strenuous exercise.  You could also turn walking time into problem-solving time.  Prior to your walk, clearly identify the problem.  Then begin walking and put the problem aside.  Think of anything else, or preferably nothing.  Well into your walk, a fresh solution to the problem may spring into your mind.

 

Keep it up:  To make walking a habit takes will power and sometimes strategy.  Schedule regular walks with a friend if you need an extra push, or walk first thing in the morning before other commitments crop up, or vary your routine to keep it interesting,  or get a dog!

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