The simplest exercise available is placing one foot in front of the other and walking. Because this is something we do every day, it is often overlooked as a valuable tool for weight loss. A 140-pound person walking at a moderate pace for 20 minutes will burn approximately 92 calories while increasing heart rate, thus making walking a very effective form of exercise.
If you are just beginning a walking program, try warming up with slow-to-moderate five-minute walking sessions, increasing the pace for a total of 30 minutes of walking. Do this three times per week, and soon it will be fairly easy to increase your pace and endurance to a brisk walk, defined as walking approximately 3.5 miles per hour. To add intensity, involve the arms by keeping them at a 90-degree angle and pumping them up and down with each step. For more of a challenge, try walking on sand or uphill. This will significantly increase your heart rate for a bonus cardio workout.
If the idea of walking seems uninspiring, try these suggestions:
• Invite a friend or take a dog along. This will help pass the time and enliven your step.
• Consider joining a walking group. A fun and social way to exercise, groups can be found in most towns and cities across the country. When the weather gets less agreeable, groups often walk in shopping malls.
• Wear comfortable walking shoes and make sure to keep hydrated, taking a sip of water every 10 minutes.
• For motivation, use a small pedometer that displays calories burned, distance covered and minutes walked.
Aim for a one- to two-pound weight loss goal per week. Statistics show that weight loss occurs more rapidly during the first few weeks of a new walking program. Although results may taper off afterward, stick with it. Keep those legs moving, and watch those pounds slowly melt away—safely and effectively.