Friday, February 18, 2011

Walking for your Health

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love to walk. It is my favorite form of exercise. For me, it is the best form of cardio that really works. However, to get the most from walking you need to walk briskly.

I am not a certified fitness trainer, nor a health practioner, nor do I claim to be. I am speaking from experience. My sisters and friends always comment on how fast I walk. I guess it's because of years of practice. I did a little research over the years on walking properly and have incorporated alot of those tips in my walks. They have been very helpful to me, so I thought I would share them with you.

When walking, make it really count by swinging your arms too. This will help to bring your heart rate up, which helps to burn calories. The faster you swing your arms, the faster your feet will move. Keep your hands cupped, but not tight like a fist. If you close your hands into a fist it will cut off the circulation and cause numb hands. Keep your hands at chest level while swinging them. So not only are you working your legs, you are working your whole body. As you swing your arms your core is also working.

Now for the footwork. Take small steps, taking larger steps doesn't necessarily mean more speed. As a matter of fact race walkers take smaller steps. This also prevents injury and burns more calories. This also helps to build endurance. I walk 5 miles, 3 days a week. With the proper form and pace you can walk mileage too. Start with 2 miles then slowly build your way up. Try your best to keep a set pace once you have warmed up.

Having a heart monitor (thanks, Dani for the tip) really helps me to see how my workout is going. It also helps me to know when to speed up and when to slow down. It isn't necessary to have a heart monitor, but helps to keep you motivated. If you don't have one, another way to monitor this is by your breathing. If you are able to hold a conversation, but not able to sing then you are getting a great workout. If you can't talk, then you are overworking yourself. If you can sing, then you are not working out hard enough.

I also found that having the proper shoes helps a great deal. I like the curved toning shoes. They look funny, but really do work. It helps me to keep a good walking form. I have a tendency to drag my left leg. I also have weak knees that like to give out on me. These shoes are designed to build the leg muscles all the way to the behind. As a result of building muscles in my legs, my weak knees do not give me anymore trouble. Another great advantage of wearing these shoes, is that it helps to build speed, because it keeps your feet in the proper form while walking. At first, they will feel funny, it took me a few times to totally get the hang of them. Again, these shoes aren't necessary, but helpful. Do make sure to wear good shoes when walking.

Breathe, never forget to breathe. Chewing mint gum helps. The mint clears my sinuses and helps me to breathe more freely. It also helps to regulate breathing.

Walking also helps clear my mind. It is about the only time I am alone (all you homeschooling moms know exactly what I'm talking about). It gives me time to reflect on things, sometimes, I might be thinking on a verse I read. Sometimes, just listening to a song to quiet myself. It also helps me to enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Okay, I have to admit, it is also a great way to get out my frustrations. Seriously though, it's hard to be depressed when I think about how God has created me, and everything around me. Being outdoors can really lift ones spirit.

Okay, I've gone way too long. I just wanted to share with you all, the benefits of walking and how to get the most out of it. If you're going to spend the time, do it right. I will leave you all with this verse to keep in mind.

Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
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