Starting a walking routine makes you the smartest person in the room because it’s one of the most rewarding lifelong activities you can choose. The benefits begin with your first step. As soon as leg muscles start to demand more oxygen, your body, mind and spirit improve instantly!
OK, you’re already convinced, and are ready to walk yourself healthy. What are next steps (pun intended)?
What Should You Wear on Your First Walk?
A loose bottom and loose top is the perfect way to feel comfortable and start the journey of “loving” exercise. I think people get “tired” just from trying to squeeze into spandex. Go straight to the clothes you know are most comfortable—clothes you could fall asleep in. You can weave in some spandex as the weeks go on, but for a beginning fitness walker, keep it comfortable.
The item that you must have to be a “super walker that gets results” is a fitness shoe—no exceptions. A fitness walking, running or (some) cross-trainers are the right choice for walking workouts that get big health and weight-loss results. Don’t skimp on fitness shoes. You need the protection for your joints, the support to walk stronger and longer, and the shock absorption to reduce unnecessary impact.
OK, now that you are outfitted, here’s the starter plan:
- Look at the time and remember it
- Walk out of your front door (OK … any door)
- Walk at your normal pace in your neighborhood or a walkable area for 10 minutes
- Now turn around and head back to that door
- Your body is now warm and ready for an increased challenge
- Walk the 10 minutes back at a “hurry-up” pace. A “hurry up” is when you are late for an appointment and you must get there … GO!
The hurry-up pace will be the one that demands more oxygen to working muscles, and that’s how fitness walking gets you big results.
Here’s my most important tip for walkers. It’s not the foot strike. It’s not the arm swing. It’s the “belly-button-to-spine” action that will make the walk more effective, protect your back, and get your abs in on the action. I call it a “tummy tuck.” Draw the belly button toward the spine. That deep layer of muscle is key to supporting your back. It stabilizes the middle of the body so that the legs can move with much more power.
What’s the Next Goal?
The foundation for a fit body has been studied and proven. Aim for five 30-minute exercise sessions each week. It will give you a strong basis for low risk of disease and high human performance.
A beginner should first shoot to complete 1 mile in about 18 minutes. You should be able to get to that goal quickly in just a few weeks of consistent walking. Then, extend to 2 miles of walking, no matter how long it takes, and finally get to 2 miles in 30 minutes. That is a strong walking pace that will reward you with good general fitness.