Walk Your Way to Better Health

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on June 4, 2009

FL-Treadmill-0710p30-mOk – so I know that exercise doesn’t directly relate to being a Picky Eater. But it does relate to being picky/conscious/disciplined about your health and maintaining your overall weight! Walking can be great exercise. You just have to know the tricks to make it an effective “cardio” activity. But once you have those tricks down – “working out” will never have to stress you out again!

Why is walking such a great option? Here are a few reasons:

1. It’s low impact: If you have knee, back, etc. etc. problems – walking will help you to build your strength/stamina without injuring you!

2. It’s easy: A lot of people have a “mental block” when it comes to exercise because it’s hard. Running is tiring! At first – it’s a lot of hard work to build up your stamina. Similarly, with other cardio type exercises – it’s not usually a fun experience right away. With walking, you can start at any speed and build up to a speed/intensity you’re comfortable with.

3. It’s all about the distance: One great thing about walking is that if you can’t go very fast, if you can go for a long period of time, it makes up for the speed. Essentially, you burn x number of calories per mile. As long as you walk, say, 3-4 miles – you’ll get the caloric benefit. You won’t necessairly get the full cardio benefit if you’re not walking at least 3.5mph, but it’s a great start regardless!

4. You can do it while watching TV: Have you ever walked on a treadmill while watching your favorite TV show or movie? The time FLIES by. Try it out!

So now that you’re a walking “expert” – how do you make it more “intense”? Here are some options:

1. For weekend activities: Go on a long hike – the hills will definitely get your heart pumping! And by long I mean 2-3 hours.

2. For every day maintenance: Aim to walk 3-4 miles a day depending on intensity. That may sound like a lot, but you don’t have to do it all at once. If you can find two 30 min blocks, or three 20 min blocks – you can get it done throughout your day without even feeling like you exercised!

3. Another option for every day maintenance: Walk on a treadmill for 40min – 1 hour. The reason I like this option is because you can very easily control your speed and the intensity (incline) you’re walking on. If you’re walking outside – your speed will vary (because you’re not a robot!) but that will also take away from the intensity of your walk. I have been able to maintain my weight for years by just walking on the treadmill. Here’s the routine I use:

    • I walk at 4mph (that’s 15 min/mile)
    • I walk on an incline of 4 or 5 depending on the treadmill (this boosts the number of calories I burn by 30-40%!)
    • I walk for at least 40 min (that’s about 2.66 miles) – but with the incline intensity, you can get away with walking a shorter distance but still getting the full benefit of your workout!
    • I walk 5 times a week
    • I ALWAYS watch a movie or a TV show while I’m walking – it helps pass the time and distract me!
    • On hot days, I use a fan and I point it directly at me – a lot of times people stop exercising because they overheat (which causes them to feel tired before they actually ARE tired!)

From a calorie burning perspective, the number of calories you burn is directly correlated with your weight. If you weigh more, you’ll burn more calories doing the same activity as someone who weighs less! So don’t just assume that if an article says you burn 300 calories from walking that you will – you need to calculate it. Here is a great site that will help you determine how many calories you actually burn while walking – check it out!

Try walking around the next time you don’t feel like exercising and let me know if these tips work for you! 🙂

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