We all have some fitness goals, or at least I would hope we all have them, if you don’t you know deep down inside you should. For me it is to walk more. I love to walk, not because I have to or because my dogs need me too… I want to walk more for myself; to increase my fitness level, to lose some weight, to improve my health and well being and what’s more to help me relax.
Walking is not difficult and it doesn’t require a lot of special preparation. All you need is some comfortable clothing, a pair of good shoes, some basic knowledge on what to do and what not to do, time and willingness. It might seem like a lot but it really is not!
Walking has a lot of benefits. It is free, it doesn’t require any special accessories, it is not weather depending, it can be achieved in any terrain and it doesn’t have an age limit. It is something we do naturally so why not walk yourself happy?
I have a few tips for new comers who want to start their journey into walking as a mean of improving their well being.
1. Get some good shoes and the correct clothing
This doesn’t mean breaking you bank balance. You probably do not need anything else than that which you most likely already own. All you really need is a pair of good comfortable trainers / walking / running shoes and some comfortable clothing. You do not have to walk in a fancy branded tracksuit, you do not need the latest model shoes, but you do need something which will fit you well and something which will be really comfortable (no pants too loose which will drop down every few steps or too short t-shirt which will come up every 2 minutes).
2. Warm up
It should only be necessary to warm up for about 5 minutes before the serious walking, in time when you start to increase the speed and distance on your walks then you can dedicate a little more time to increasing flexibility. Try to do some of the following:
Forward leg kicks – use a pole or tree for balance and swing your right leg in front of you and then behind you, swapping to your legs after 10 kicks.
Ankle turns – Stand on one leg and rotate the ankle of the raised leg, do ten circles in each direction and then change legs.
Toe point – stand on one leg and point the toe on the raised leg, then flax it. Repeat 10 times then swap legs.
Arm swings – stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms straight out beside you parallel to the ground. Keep your lower body immobile and swing your arms from side to side through a full range so that you end up looking over each shoulder.
Arm circles – hold your arms straight out to your side, parallel to the ground. Make small circles going backwards, gradually getting larger and larger. Then change direction.
In order to minimize any muscle pain we all should try to keep a close attention to our posture whilst walking, making sure we are getting it right – keep your shoulders back and relaxed and hold your head up, with your eyes looking forward. It’s also a good idea to hold your tummy in and tighten your buttocks.
4. Speed and distance
This is the beauty of walking – there is no speed and distance set in stone. You can walk 5 minutes or you can walk for 45 minutes, it is all up to you. What is important is to just start walking at a speed that suits you, nice and easy. Then everyday you should either increase your speed or the distance travelled a little. Remember if you want to speed up – increase number of the steps you take, not the length of your stride. A good practise is to change the speed at which you walk – make a few minutes of a really fast march and then just walk for the next few and if you are feeling up for it repeat it again. Try and go out walking every day and, if the pace feels ok for you then add 5 minutes to your walk every time, until you’ve covering the distance you’re happy with. If you’re walking to lose some weight, then aim for 45-60 minutes of brisk walking at least 5 days a week.
5. Cool down
It is worth to finish our whole walking session with a little cool down. Just a few stretches to relax legs muscle and relax our back should do the trick. This will help prevent any unnecessary muscle pains. Repeating the warm up exercises from above will aid this process.
6. Eat /drink right
In the 2 hours after you exercise, your muscles are doing most of their replenishing and will need refuelling – the optimum meal post-workout should include a mixture of protein and carbohydrate. Also do not forget about water, staying well hydrated is very important especially if you are off for a long walk on a hot sunny or even warm day.
7. Keep a diary
Keeping good notes on the time and distance covered will help you with future planning of your training sessions. Getting a reliable pedometer might be a good idea. We should be aiming for the goal of 10,000 steps a day; apparently this can be counted as an active lifestyle 🙂
So my aim for the spring / summer is to walk more. I would love for you to join me in this challenge.
Let’s walk ourselves happy!
Who is with me?
* This post was written in collaboration with Expert Panel from SportsShoes. I received an incentive in the form of running kit to help me achieve my fitness goal.