Walk, walk, walk…it’s free and effective. Walking done well can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve insulin/glucose metabolism and aid in the treatment of some musculoskeletal diseases. But- how does one ‘walk well?’ Good question. Let’s talk about that:
First, let me say that traditional walking programs might not be enough for the very fit individual and may be a little too much for the person with physical limitations. For most people, however, walking is an excellent form of exercise.
Some have complained to me, “I’m walking 3 miles two or three times a week (or include your own numbers here), and I’m still not losing weight.” To which I answer with one or both of the following questions, “How are you walking those three miles?” or “How long have you been doing that?” If you’ve been doing the same workout for more than 6-8 weeks, your body has adapted to it and no longer needs to change to keep up. The problem most people I talk to are having is this: they stroll rather than engage in a brisk walk.
What makes a ‘brisk walk?’ A brisk walk is moderate intensity exercise. Marshall et al. (2009) defined that walking 100 steps per minute is moderate intensity exercise. And the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM 2014) recommends most adults accumulate 30-60 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 days a week. Or 20-60 minutes a day of vigorous intensity exercise at least 3 days a week- or a combination of both.
The bottom line: Walk faster. Get winded when you are walking. If you’re able to carry on a conversation with your walking buddy while walking the track, or in your neighborhood, you’re likely not walking briskly enough. Take longer steps. Take faster steps. Walk (or do some other form of moderate exercise) most days of the week. It‘s not how far you’ve walked, but the quality of your walk and the time spent in a ‘winded’ condition. As you adapt to your exercise routine, you’ve got to change it up. I teach fitness groups in Blanco three days a week, and about every 8 weeks or so, I change up the routine to keep us all on our toes and making forward progress in our efforts to become more fit.
Keep up the good work. Don’t ever stop. Keep moving those feet and you’ll get where you’re going!
Sally Windham is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org