Walking is one of those exercises that seems to get regularly recommended by doctors but, at the same time, tends to take a back seat to running and jogging. However, you shouldn't write off this low-impact cardiovascular exercise. If done correctly, it can help you jumpstart and complement a regular fitness routine, maintain weight and, best of all, keep you active.
When's the last time you took a long, brisk walk?
Walking is pretty great. It's free! Unless you prefer to use a treadmill and end up buying one or joining a gym, of course. No expensive equipment and assorted fitness accessories required. The one thing you really do need is a pair of good walking shoes. Even a slow stroll that is a few minutes long can feel like utter agony if you're wearing the wrong shoes. Have a dog? Take him along! When your dog gets exercise, it not only helps him maintain a healthy weight, but can also help fix certain behavioral issues. For example, if your dog barks a lot and is hyper, regular exercise can help him to calm down. After a brisk walk, all he'll want is some cold water and a long nap.
Many of us spend long periods of time sitting. Never mind the extra 10 pounds you've been trying to lose for the past two years, our sedentary lifestyles can cause myriad health problems, which are then complicated by that extra weight.
Take a walk, therefore, to keep the following at bay: bad posture, swollen legs and ankles, high blood pressure, and blood clots. After you've kept up a walking routine for a few weeks, you'll notice that you're not getting as winded up those hills or stairs — always a plus!
Caveat: You're not going to burn a gazillion calories if you simply go for a stroll, but even a relaxing walk is better than not moving at all. Talk to your doctor before you begin this or any workout regimen, especially since you need to stay within your target heart rate.
Here are some pointers to help you burn maximum calories on your walk.
Engage the core. There's no easier way to strengthen your abs than to engage them during your walks. Suck in that gut and hold it, without holding your breath. It should feel like you're trying to pull in your tummy through your bellybutton. Doing so not only encourages you to maintain good posture but also prepares your abs for those crunches you plan to do later.
>> Read more: Buzzworthy 8-Minute Abs Routine
Tighten the tush. Since you're already tightening your abs, tighten your buns as you push off your toes. Get those butt muscles working hard.
Mind your feet. Put your entire foot to work. Start with your heel, roll forward and push off from the ball of your foot and your toes. Engaging the whole foot in this manner allows you to give your calves, hamstrings and butt a proper workout.
Walk briskly. Ideally, to burn maximum calories, you should walk a mile in 15 minutes, but you'll probably need to work up toward that goal. Don't rush, and don't quit if you take 20 minutes. The idea here is to walk faster than you usually do.
Pretend you're late for work and go, go, go! You should feel slightly out of breath, but still able to hold a conversation. If you're so winded you can't speak and feel like your heart is clamoring out of your chest, slow down. The more you stick with it, the faster you'll get and the more powerful your legs will feel, so be patient and don't hurt yourself.
Stand up straight. Keep your shoulders back, down and relaxed and look straight ahead. Walk like you own that sidewalk or path.
Stride right. When you take smaller steps, you walk faster, but when you take longer strides, you give your inner and outer thigh muscles a better workout.
Run for the hills. If you live in hilly terrain, then good news: You burn more calories and give the backs of your legs a better workout when you walk on an incline. Avoid really steep hills when you first start your routine.
Use your arms. Swinging your arms helps you build up speed and propel yourself forward. Just remember to keep those shoulders relaxed!
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