Walking for fitness

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It’s where we start isn’t it?

“Mmmm, I think I’ll start getting fit, I know I’ll go for a walk, it’s free, relatively easy…”

Great Idea!!! Walking allows you to increase your fitness without having to think about equipment and memberships. It is achievable for almost anyone, whether starting with a ten minute stroll or something more challenging.

As long as you get a bit ‘puffed’ when doing it you are burning fat and decreasing your chances of lifestyle related diseases.

Principle of overload

In order to keep improving our fitness we have to keep making our workout harder as we get fitter. Our body adapts to a workload (your regular 30 minute walk for example) so you can’t do the same walk month after month and expect to keep improving. The easiest way to increase your workload is to walk for longer (add 5-10 minutes every couple of weeks) but at some point you have to add intensity or you’ll end up walking all day! You can increase intensity by adding in hills, changing your terrain (a bush walk is harder than on the flat) or just moving faster.

Using terrain

One of the advantages of walking is that it can be done by stepping just outside your door so don’t worry too much about getting the ‘right’ terrain, keep it simple and achievable . Try to vary your route for variety. If you find you are inclined to stop halfway through your intended walk and head home then try catching a ride (or a bus) away from home and walk back.

The right gear

Walking is not a high impact activity so the flashiest of gear is not required (don’t let that stop you going shopping if you so desire!). In the clothing department- something comfy with layers so you can take off stuff as you get hot; that sweaty, overheated, uncomfortable feeling just makes us less likely to push ourselves.

In the shoe department, a basic pair of trainers within your budget is all you need. If you have injuries or niggly bits your choice of footwear will be more important.

Distance and time

How long is a piece of string? How long and how hard you workout is dependant on your fitness and also your time restraints. To increase your fitness you need to be working a wee bit harder than you really want to. When walking this means going a distance or working at a level that makes you feel like you are putting in some effort rather than a gentle stroll you could keep up all day!

Walking will increase your muscle mass, but it’s mainly in your lower body so to get an all round workout you will want to consider adding in some resistance training with weights or using body weight (as in push ups and squats etc).

Julz Darroch

Julz Darroch provides education and resources for those who want to get fit and introduce exercise into their lives but aren’t sure where to start- the exercise allergic are her speciality! Julz is also mum to two great kids who help keep her moving. You can find out more on her website.

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Please note that Kiwi Families is not intended to replace individualised, specialist advice that you receive from your doctor and other health professionals.
Please note that this article represents the views of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Kiwi Family Media Ltd.

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