Many people looking to get into shape and lose weight choose walking as a way to do so. It makes sense: It is low-impact, pleasurable, and manageable for most fitness levels, making it far from intimidating. Further, it has been widely accepted that walking three times a week for 30 minutes each time can help bolster your cardiovascular health. But is walking really enough to get into good physical condition? Unfortunately, I would have to say no.
Saying that walking is the only thing you need is like saying that gas is all your car needs to function properly. If you neglect the engine, don't put oil in it and don't inflate the tires, the car eventually will stop running properly. Walking is a great activity to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle, but it isn't the begin all and end all of being in great physical shape.
If you haven't exercised regularly for a long time, walking is a good way to start getting back into a regimen. But to make it really work for you, remember the following:
- Intensity: Are you strolling or are you pushing yourself? More than the exercise itself, getting your heart rate up into a zone of 65% - 85% your maximum heart rate is important to making the activity beneficial.
- Continue to Challenge Yourself: Walk on a treadmill to pace yourself. You should try to walking between 3.5 to 4.5 miles per hour. This will ensure you are getting some sort of cardiovascular workout. (If you don't have a treadmill, get a pedometer and try to steadily increase the number of steps you take within the 30 minutes, every time you walk). Once you are able to walk in this range for 30 minutes comfortably, challenge yourself. Try jogging. If not, try to walk faster and longer. As you become more fit, you will need to work harder to get the same benefit.
- Strength Training: Try to incorporate some strength training into your workout. It will help you to build muscle and raise your metabolism…which will burn more calories…which will help you lose weight.
- Eat Properly: Make sure you are eating properly. Even if you were to walk an hour a day, every day of the week, but you continued to eat poorly, you would not see results.
Do you walk for weight loss? Have you seen any improvements? Have you incorporated these other important aspects?