Walking is simple – it gets you out in the fresh air, you can do it any time, any place and, best of all, you can do it entirely at your own pace.
Top fitness expert Mary Morris, Head of Training at Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs, has some great tips to encourage you to get out there and strut your stuff!WALKING POSTURE
No matter how fast or how far you go, standing tall is key. Shoulders that hunch forwards tighten the chest and inhibit breathing, so make sure you pull your shoulders back. Keep your chin up, always looking about 10 feet ahead, and keep you tummy tight to support your back.WALKING TECHNIQUE – EASY WALK
This is a pace and style that is particularly designed for beginners and can also be referred to as your normal pace, as long as you try to keep going for the time you have set yourself. It will raise your heart rate to a low to moderate level.
This is a much more powerful action than the Easy Walk and therefore uses more energy. If you can progress to a brisk walk, then the fat-burning benefits will be much greater.
Walking is a fantastic calorie burner and, to prove it, all you need is a step meter that tells you exactly how many steps you have taken and how many calories you have used. Recent research suggests that we should be taking 10,000 steps a day to be fit and slim. Interestingly, a whole community in Colorado was found to be only taking on average 2,000 – 3,000 steps. So increase your steps and see the pounds fall away.PUT YOUR HEART INTO WALKING
Another good reason to get walking is the effect it will have on your heart and lungs. The great thing about starting a walking programme is that over a very short time you can go further and faster. This tells you that your heart and lungs are working more efficiently and you can keep going because you now have more stamina and have become fitter without even realising it. For the more serious walkers it is worth using a heart monitor and you will soon find yourself working in the 'fat burning' training zone. Heart monitors are priced at around £60 and are available from good sports shops.STRENGTHEN YOUR BONES
Walking is one of the best bone workouts and suits almost everybody. Every time your foot hits the ground you load the body with 1 – 1½ times your body weight and this really helps to keep your bones strong. We are very efficient at laying down high bone density for life when we are young and bone strengthening exercise may lessen your chances of suffering the brittle bone condition osteoporosis in later life.GET KITTED OUT
Deciding what to wear in dry and warm conditions is not difficult, but it becomes more of an issue when the weather is cold and wet. Layered clothing is always a good idea with any physical activity, as you can then peel off each layer as you need to. Check out your local outdoor suppliers if you get really serious as there are some great waterproof, but "breathable", outerwear garments now on the market that need not be expensive. PVC garments are cheaper and waterproof, but not good if you get a real sweat on.STEP OUT IN COMFORT
A good walking shoe is essential. Look for a shoe with good heel cushioning, a flexible forefoot and a supportive heel construction for stability. Any reputable outdoor supplier can provide you with what you need and it needn't break the bank. If you are only a fair-weather walker, then a good cross trainer will cover all your activity needs.FIND A WALKING BUDDY
It is sometimes very hard to keep up a walking programme on your own. At the first sign of bad weather you persuade yourself not to go. But if you have made an arrangement with someone who is your regular walking buddy your commitment rises hugely. Phone a friend right now and book in your first session. As you can see from our Easy Start Walking Programme, it need only be 10 minutes to start with.SET YOUR ROUTES
Finding a suitable route that you enjoy is important if you are to stick with a programme. A circuitous route is always the best as there is something very satisfying about coming back from the opposite direction. Start with a fairly flat and short route – 10 to 15 minutes is a great start and just keep adding on. You will soon find 30 minutes of steady paced walking no problem at all.FUEL UP
Once you have become more active don't think that you can eat anything you like. If you plan to walk for less than an hour, you do not have to think of eating any differently. If you are planning to walk for longer than an hour, then think about having something like a banana or a cereal bar an hour or so before setting off, or eat one as soon as you get home.STAY HYDRATED
There are lots of special drinks on the market that help you hydrate more quickly – and yes they do work. However, they are only really needed when exercisers have worked at a very high intensity for a long period of time. Walking is considered a moderate activity, even if you walk briskly, so you can adequately hydrate with good plain water out of the tap. There are some great belts you can buy now that incorporate water bottles and your mobile phone – just in case you get lost!
For information about Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs, please visit www.rosemaryconley.com