Obese persons may benefit by starting a simple walking program to shed pounds and increase overall fitness. A walking routine burns calories and increases stamina, energy level and bone strength. Regular walking can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer or diabetes, according to the American Council on Exercise. Ask your primary care physician if a walking program would be appropriate for you.
If you are new or just returning to exercise, your speed and length of time spent walking are not as important as getting out regularly to develop the habit of walking, suggests the American Council on Exercise. If it’s hard to catch your breath or hold a conversation while walking, slow down. Divide your walking time into smaller segments spaced throughout the day, if that works better for you.
When you are ready to step up the pace, walk five days per week and add two minutes of brisk walking time each week. Always start with five minutes of walking at a moderate pace to warm up, followed by a brisk walking segment, and ending with a five-minute slower walk to cool down. For the first week, walk briskly for five minutes. From week two to six, increase your brisk walking segment by two minutes each week. By week six you are walking briskly for 15 minutes. In week seven, increase the brisk walking time to 18 minutes. From week eight to twelve, add two minutes of brisk walking each week. By week 12, you are walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days per week for a total of 150 minutes each week. This is the amount of time recommended for adults to engage in moderate aerobic activity each week according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Calories Burned While Walking
The number of calories burned as you walk depends on your current weight. A 155-lb. person burns about 298 calories in one hour, traveling at 3.5 mph. A 185-lb. person walks off about 356 calories at that pace. At a brisker speed of 4.5 mph, the 155-lb. person burns 334 calories per hour and the 185-lb. person burns about 400 calories. You can burn 5 to 10 percent more calories by swinging your arms while walking, according to Winston Salem Health.
Swing your arms naturally as you walk. Maintain a good posture with your shoulders relaxed, tummy pulled in and head up. If you use Nordic walking poles, you can burn more calories and have better muscle endurance, notes the American Council on Exercise. Treadmills can be an option if you prefer to walk indoors.
Prevent problems such as blisters or muscle pain that can occur after walking. Wear shoes with proper arch support and thick, flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Keeping your fitness goals in mind will help you stay motivated in your new walking routine. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program.