by Geri Walton ~ August 13th, 2008
Anyone can lose weight if they are willing to walk. The best way to do it, according to a professional walking coach, is to start with short walks—ten minutes to begin—twice a day for five days a week. Each week increase the length of your walk by five minutes until you are walking sixty to ninety minutes each day.
The good news about these short walks is they are as effective and as beneficial as longer walks. Furthermore, short walks are better for those with joint problems because it’s less likely they’ll experience pain. As you walk you will also lose weight, and according to Prevention Magazine “extra weight puts more impact on your hips and knees, but every pound you drop takes 4 pounds of pressure off joints!” So, over time it should become easier to walk and to walk farther.
Here are some tips to ensure you have a successful walk:
- Buy a Pedometer. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, you are more likely to walk and to walk further if you wear a pedometer. Pedometers offer feedback on how well you’re doing and they can provide the number of steps you’ve taken, the calories you’ve burned, and the distance you’ve walked. The pedometer I use is Sportline Walking Advantage 350 Scanning Pedometer shown to the right. I just got it and I love it. It was simple to input my walking stride and it is simple to operate. I can also flip the face up as I’m walking and the display changes so I don’t have to read it upside down.
- Chose walkways with give. Concrete sidewalks are
extremely hard surfaces, so it’s better to walk on softer surfaces, such as asphalt or a dirt trail.
- Drink Water. Before your start your walk, drink 8 ounces of water, and drink another 8 ounces in twenty minutes and for every twenty minutes thereafter that you walk.
- Have Good Posture. When you walk you need to stand up straight, suck in your stomach, walk with your chin up, and keep your eyes focused ahead. Maintain good posture and you’ll avoid problems with your back, shoulders, and neck.
- Purchase good “walking” shoes. Not all “walking shoes” are created equal. Look for ones that are lightweight and flexible, such as New Balance’s performance walking shoes. They have the Men’s New Balance 826 Running Shoe or the Women’s New Balance 826 Running Shoe. Another great performance walking shoe is the Men’s P.W. Minor Performance Walker and the Women’s P.W. Minor Performance Walker. If you walk long distances, you need supportive cushioned walking shoes, and the best ones I know are the New Balance Men’s MR8508 Running Shoe and the New Balance Women’s WT811 Running Shoe.
- Replace shoes regularly. Shoes wear out just like tires. Remember to replace your shoes every year or every 500 miles, because if shoes are old they can’t provide proper support.
- Swing your arms. Arms add power and speed to your walk, so don’t just let them dangle. Bend them 90 degrees and allow them to move naturally with the opposite leg as you walk.
- Walk 8250 steps. If you can barely cross the room, keep this number in mind and as you improve set this as your walking goal. According to researchers healthy adults over fifty need to walk 8250 steps a day to stay fit. If you have chronic health problems your goal should be 4,000 steps a day. Use a pedometer to help you achieve that goal.
- Walk at a comfortable pace. Don’t overstride. It will cause your shins to hurt and create an awkward gait. If you want to go faster, it’s better to have short quick steps than long awkward strides.
If you liked this article and you want more information on walking or if you just need a nudge to get going, four great books are
- Mark Fenton and David R. Bassett’s Pedometer Walking: Stepping Your Way to Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness does just that. They get you moving and provide information on how to create your own pedometer program.
- Dr. James M. Ripple’s High Performance Health: 10 Real Life Solutions to Redefine Your Health and Revolutionize Your Life challeneges you to “Take back your health!” and demonstrates how you can do it.
- Katherine’s Switzer’s Running and Walking for Women Over 40 : The Road to Sanity and Vanity gives you the guidance you need to get into shape and helps you transform into a fit and healthy person.
- British Columbia’s Sports Medicine Council’s The Beginning Runner’s Handbook: The Proven 13-Week Walk-Run Program is designed to turn anyone into a runner in thirteen weeks and to keep you motivated.