Timeless Fitness Tips...
Walking is a very popular and beneficial way to get appropriate exercise and is generally very safe for just about anyone.
You Determine Your Calorie Burn
One thing to keep in mind, is that like any other exercise, how hard you work at it will determine how many calories you burn. If you go to the mall on bad weather days to get your walking in, dawdling and window shopping, usually done at a speed of about 2.5 miles an hour, will burn approximately 200 to 250 calories an hour. If you step it up to a brisker pace of about 4.5 miles an hour, you'll burn more than 500 calories an hour. This pace should cause you to break into a sweat and raise your heart rate a bit.
How About Mall Walking?
Mall walking is a perfect way to make exercise feel less like a chore and more a part of daily life. Shopping centers are heated in winter, air-conditioned in summer, safe, well lit, and free of snapping dogs and pollen.
Not only will you burn calories and tone your legs, if you maintain good posture when you walk, you'll give your abs a workout. Keep yourself straight up while holding in your ab muscles; every step becomes a mini sit-up. Most of us lean forward when we walk, but we can catch ourselves easily at the mall: Just check your posture in your reflection in the windows.
Considering a pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, you could burn off a pound of fat if you strove to pick up the pace in a week!
Walk a Meal Away
Taking a little stroll after a meal is a super way to crank up your metabolism. You will burn off calories, instead of converting them to body fat.
Researchers found that a mere ten minutes of walking, started 20 to 30 minutes after a meal, can speed up your body's fat-burning capacity by as much as 50-percent! The best news is that this fat-burning boost in your metabolism can last all night. You will continue to burn extra calories while you sleep!
This is a great way to speed up your fat burning ability, and it's an easy one, too! You could even add to this and if time permits, take a 10 minute walk during your lunch break. If it is difficult for you to walk outside - or perhaps not safe - seriously consider investing in a treadmill.
Get Into a Book
Tune in to an audio book while you walk. It will keep you going longer and looking forward to the next walk - and the next chapter. Look for a "whodunit"; you might walk so far you will need to take a cab home!
Walk To Avoid Heart Disease
Women who walk to avoid heart disease only one hour a week at an easy pace have half the risk of coronary heart disease as sedentary women.
These results are from a study of over 40,000 women and were published in the March Journal of American Medical Association. And while I don't care for studies that discount men, it's pretty safe to say in this case that men would benefit close to, if not more of the same benefits. But the study was specifically done on women.
Hip Tip: Take a Walk
In a study of more than 61,000 people, those who walked for at least four hours a week - but did no other exercise - had a 41-percent lower risk of hip fracture than those who walked for less than one hour a week.
Faster walkers had an even lower risk. Those who walked at an average pace (2 to 2.9 mph) had a 49-percent lower risk than those who walked at an easy pace (less than 2 mph). Those who walked at a brisk pace (3 to 3.9 mph) or very brisk pace (at least 4 mph) cut their risk by 65-percent.
Exercise helped keep hip bones intact among both normal and overweight individuals, but not among women taking estrogen (they already had a lower risk).
Older adults can be affected by heat and cold more than other adults. In extreme cases, exposure to too much heat can cause heat stroke, and exposure to very cold temperatures can lead to hypothermia (a dangerous drop in body temperature). If you are exercising outdoors, dress in layers so you can add or remove clothes as needed, or get a treadmill or drive on over to the mall for some mall walking so you can avoid the weather extremes.
A high level of cardiorspiratory fitness lowers your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen and fuel to your working muscles for prolonged periods of time. It doesn't even matter if you walk fast or slow, just so you get an hour in every week. Think of that! That's only 10 minutes, six days out of the week!
Of course more is better - suppose you knew that was coming - but this is very good news, especially for those who are not used to walking or any exercise for that matter.
Studies have shown that due to the design of our body, walking is more natural than sitting, standing or running and walking is not as stressful to the body as other exercises.
Additional benefits of walking include stimulating creativity and problem solving skills, as well as being used as a form of meditation. Walking gives you the opportunity to be outdoors in the fresh air and the chance to watch the seasons change.
Food For Thought
You have more than 400 muscles in your body that you use daily. For each extra pound of muscle you add to your body, you automatically burn an extra 75 calories a day to maintain it. In contrast, if you add a pound of fat to your body, you are calling on just two calories a day to maintain that extra body mass.
Let's summarize the health benefits of walking.
- More energy.
- Improved self image.
- Increased resistance to fatigue.
- Aids in relaxation and feeling less tense.
- Improves your ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well.
- Tones your muscles.
- Helps suppress your appetite.
- Walking also alleviates stress and depression and improves your immunity as well.
Walking is also the perfect way to get away from phones, pagers, faxes, e-mail, and other interruptions. And, in addition to all these great benefits, walking is safe, easy, and cheap. What more can you ask for in an exercise so simple?
Always check with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program, even walking, especially if you have one of the following health issues.
- Heart condition.
- Frequent pain or pressure in your left, or mid-chest area, left neck, shoulder or arm, during or after physical activity.
- You have suffered chest pain within the last month.
- You tend to lose consciousness or fall over due to dizziness.
- Mild exertion makes you feel breathless.
- You are on medication for blood pressure or a heart condition.
- You have bone or joint problems.
- You are middle-aged or older, have not been physically active for some time and plan a relatively vigorous exercise program.
Download our free eBook, which will guide you into a walking program of your own. Download the Walking for Fitness eBook (PDF).