Walking is a very important component to good physical and mental health but is it really enough to help people lose weight, improve fitness, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels? Is there more you should be doing with your exercise program or does your training program, usually just walking, need to be rejigged to get the maximum benefit? More and more we find people are ignoring one of the most important aspects of healthy ageing and quality of life; muscular strength. In this article, I will elaborate on the importance of muscular strength and provide you with some simple solutions to get the most out of your body, regardless of your age.
So is walking enough? The obvious answer is it will depend on how often you walk, how far you walk and how fast you walk; the more the better. However, in most cases it usually is not enough, especially when it has been part of a routine for a number of months or years, and is done at a low to moderate intensity. We are very energy efficient when it comes to walking, so the standard 30 minute walk with the dog does not actually burn much energy, and therefore contributes only minimally to weight loss (and other factors mentioned above). Something needs to change to stimulate your body into fat burning action.
Firstly, consider the following things to get more out of the time you spend walking:
- Add hills to your walk and charge up them as fast as you can
- Walking on sand is more challenging than foot path (careful of knees and back)
- Walking 20 paces and “trotting” or jogging 10 paces
- Walk the dog, then do additional walking independently at a faster speed
- Walking in a beautiful park, the mountains or the beach is more appealing than a busy highway – drive to walk if the environment is more motivating
- Walk with a friend or in a group to motivate you
- Become a goal setter – pick a fun run or walk and train for it
- Time your walk once a month and track improvements in time
- Measure your daily steps with a pedometer – track your results and target 12,000 or more per day (10,000 is not usually enough for weight loss)
- Stop and do a few exercises at a park bench to breakup your walk – squats are a good one