I’m not a runner, never have been, never will be. I’m the kid who used to puke in gym class when we had to run around the track. But walking is something I can do and I enjoy it. I quit smoking about 7 months ago and have packed on some extra pounds since then. While I’m proud of myself for quitting the habit after almost 25 years as a smoker, the extra weight has proven a little tricky to lose. Quitting smoking is tough, but I did it because I’m tough too! Now it’s time to dust off the walking tips I’ve accumulated over the years and get this shit under control.
Studies have shown that walking might be more effective than other more intense types of exercise for long-term weight management. And walking is the easiest type of exercise to fit into a day because we’re doing it already! The only difference is to walk with purpose instead of just walking as a way to get from Point A to Point B.
If you’re looking to drop some pounds or just want to walk for fitness, these walking tips and tricks will help you walk your way to a slimmer and healthier you.
Where Should You Walk?
That’s the beauty of walking. You can literally do it anywhere. As long as you’re walking at a fast enough clip to get your heart rate going, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re inside or outside. But spring is coming and it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy that fresh air! Take a walk around your neighborhood and get to know your neighbors! But it’s cool if outside just isn’t your thing. You can still get a good workout on the old treadmill if you have one. Pinterest and Google runneth over with walking workouts for a treadmill. And if you don’t have a treadmill and don’t want to walk outside? Try the mall! There are no excuses. You can walk anywhere so get out there and pick one!
What to Wear?
I will confess that I like the workout clothes better than the actual workout. I don’t need an excuse to go buy a new pair of shoes either. But really, for walking all you really need are comfortable clothes and a decent fitness shoe. I say fitness shoe because I like a running or cross-training shoe as opposed to a true walking shoe. Because walking shoes are ugly. You can get a reasonably priced running shoe that will work just fine for walking. Right now I’m sporting these NIKE Revolution 3 Running shoes and I love them. They’re comfy, super lightweight, and didn’t cost a fortune.
How to Walk?
Although you’ve probably been walking by yourself for a good portion of your life by now, you might not know there is a right way to walk. I mean, yeah, we all know good posture is important. Keep your back straight, head up and try not to look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame as you shuffle across Target. But when you’re walking for fitness you should try to keep your back straight and draw your belly button in towards your spine. For reference, this is the same move you do when you had ice cream 5 nights in a row and your jeans are a wee bit tighter but you need to get them zipped because you can’t find a safety pin.
When to Walk?
The short answer is: whenever and wherever you can. We’ve already established that walking is the one activity you can do pretty much anywhere. There are a bazillion apps for step trackers that are free. But if you prefer to use something that you wear and can also track heart rate and sleep patterns, you can’t go wrong with a Fitbit. It’s the most well-known and it easily integrates with just about every device type.
When it’s time to walk, you should warm up at a normal pace for 10 minutes and then it’s GO TIME! Aim for 4 or 5 30 minute sessions every week. Try to shoot for 18 minutes per mile to start with and then work up to 2 miles in 30 minutes. If you’re tracking your heart rate to determine calorie burn, your target zone will be between 50-85% of your maximum rate, which is based on age.
We all have busy lives so if you’re struggling to find time to get your steps in, here are some additional ways that you can work them in during the course of a day:
Get those steps in!
- Set a goal for your steps each day – 3,000 or 5,000 or even 10,000. If you have a goal you’re trying to hit you’re a lot more likely to put in the effort to git ‘er done.
- Park farther away whenever possible. I do this as a matter of course because I drive a Camaro and I don’t want to park next to anyone. I’m obnoxious like that. But it does pay off in the extra steps it takes to get to the door.
- Walk wherever you can if it’s close enough. Instead of driving to lunch, pick a spot that you can walk to. Or if the school is within walking distance to your home, leave the car in the garage and walk to get your kids instead.
- Take a break and walk around the building where you work. People do this all the time where I work. I would ask that if you do this, be respectful of other people and don’t run them over with your entourage that’s 6 people wide and spans the entire hallway. We all want to get our steps in but this isn’t West Side Story and you’re not a Jet.
- Walk while you’re on conference calls. It’s not good for you to sit at a desk for hours at a time and not get up to stretch your legs. But some days you might have calls scheduled back to back to back. If you have a cordless headset, use it and walk around while you’re on calls. You’d be surprised at how many steps you could rack up this way. Now if we could only burn calories by rolling our eyes…because I do that constantly as I spend hours on pointless conference calls.
Now go forth and walk
We’ve all been holed up in the house all winter probably not doing much more walking than from the couch to the fridge. Now that it’s warming up, we’ll be outside more doing stuff like yard cleanup and projects. It would be really easy to say that since we’ll be more active outside we don’t need to worry about walking every day. WRONG! It’s really important to start forming the habit of working out daily. The more used to it you are, the better the chance that you’ll stick with it.