Walking For Fitness

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Walking is one of the most popular forms of physical fitness. More people than ever are now walking. Walking provides us with many benefits including great exercise, savings on fuel, less highway congestion, less pollution and a great way to lose weight. If you're just starting your walking fitness program, there are certain tips you may want to keep in mind so you'll be off on the right track.

Start off Slow

One of the biggest mistakes many beginners make with walking is that they try to do too much too soon. They attempt to walk more miles than they're conditioned for and are often dressed inappropriately for the activity and the weather. The result is usually sore and painful feet and total exhaustion, which often discourages them from walking again or at least for a while.

When you're just starting, walk out the door and just take a short walk for 5 to 10 minutes and come back. You can do this a couple of times a day for the first week. Each week thereafter, add 5 minutes to the walk and keep doing this until you've reached your goal. Few people realize how important it is to maintain good posture and walk tall. Keep your abdominal muscles and buttocks as tight as possible with your head held high and your shoulders back and relaxed.

Take Care of your body

Drink plenty of water before you, during and when you're finished walking. Make sure you allow your body a chance to warm up before you start walking by doing a few simple stretching exercises. Even if you don't plan on walking far or feel walking is easy, you still need to warm up your muscles and joints to avoid injury and soreness. It's equally important to do some "cooling down" stretches when you're finished walking. The importance of stretching both before and after your walking cannot be overemphasized and should be an important part of your fitness walking program.

Develop a Pattern

One of the hardest things about getting going with a fitness walking program is being consistent and sticking with it every day. When you first start your program you should walk every day, starting slowly and working yourself up to the pace you want. If you have a heart monitor, it will be helpful because you'll be able to walk at a speed that will allow you to reach your ideal heart rate. If health benefits are your reason for walking, you should walk for 30 minutes each day. A good pace to walk is what is known as a "talking pace", meaning although you may have elevated breathing, you can still walk and carry on a normal conversation.