Walking is one of the best things for your body, especially for women. Running is often too harsh on the body, putting lots of pressure on the joints (knees and hips especially) and the back and feet. The older you get the worse running in for your body. Now granted running does burn a large amount of calories in a short time and is a great cardio workout but it also builds a substantial amount of bulk muscle and women don’t want bulk muscle, they want long, lean muscles.
The way to get longer, leaner muscles is to go walking. Walk 3 to 5 times a week and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour walking. To add extra calorie burning to your walk go to your local sports store and pick up a light set of hand and ankle weights. Look for weights for your ankles from 1-3 pounds and for your hands 3-5 pounds. This little extra resistance will help you get more out of your workout and tone and tightened muscles that wouldn’t normally get used during regular walking. And always walk outside, no matter how cold or how hot is it, the fresh air is great for your vital signs and getting out in the sun will improve your overall mood.
Make sure to incorporate all sorts of different terrain into your walk as well. Make a route that hits lots of hills, another one that is “off-roading”, one more that is completely flat and also add a cross terrain one.
The hilly route should have at least 4 hills (for a 30 minute walk, more for the longer the walk). Try finding a route that has 2 hills and make it a round trip, go up and down the 2 hills and then turn around and hit them again. When you are doing hills make sure you are breathing properly, in through the nose and out the mouth, this will help bring oxygen to all your muscles and will help with stamina during the tough parts of the walk.
“Off-roading” means go walk in the woods, on trails or make your own path. Grand Ledge’s Fitzgerald Park is a great place to do this or any state or local park in the area (click here to see local parks). With this option you can get creative, maybe incorporate climbing a tree, jumping over some obstacles and exploring new territory you normally wouldn’t walking on a sidewalk.
For one of your easier days or a day you can only take a short walk, make it a power walk on flat surfaces. This means no extra hard obstacles, you should be able to walk flat terrain fairly well, so make it a little more challenging and step up the speed of your walk or use the heavier weights on these walk days. Swing your arms a little faster and it will propel your legs forward. Speed walking is a great way to get the heart beat up without straining other parts of your body.
Cross-terrain is essentially combining at least two different routes or types of walking, for example a hilly off-roading route, or a fast pace route with smaller hills. Anything you can come up with that is fun, exciting and will keep you engaged.
Walking is fun and doesn’t have to be so boring, so grab your favorite band or artist’s music and hits the ol’ dusty trail, you’ll be surprised how your mood and energy level will improve by just simply walking.