Walking is the perfect exercise. Walking is the easiest and quickest way to achieve physical fitness. Walking not only firms up muscle, but also burns off calories. No matter what the pace—from a slow stroll to a brisk arm-swinging stride, you can reap the benefits of a regular walking program.
When you walk, every part of your body is used, from your eyes to your toes. Walking produces beneficial changes in the functioning of the internal organs-especially the heart, lungs and circulatory system. The heartbeat becomes stronger and steadier, breathing becomes deeper and circulation improves.
No matter at what pace, walking burns off calories. Of course, the faster you walk, the more calories you will use up. However, if you can't or don't want to walk fast, walk longer. For example, if you walk at a pace of 6 km/hour in 15 minutes and cover one and a half kilometer, you will use 110 calories. At a pace of 4.5 km/h for 2 kilometers, you will also burn off 110 calories.
If you have been doing nothing more than moving around the house, walking is the perfect exercise to begin a new fitness program. Start with the equivalent of one block on level ground. As soon as you are comfortable walking one block, increase your distance until you are able to cover five to six kilometers in about an hour. One of the most ideal places to find an easy level area to walk is at a shopping mall. Many malls encourage walkers to use their space before shopping hours.
You will experience benefits regardless what pace you walk. It is important that you maintain correct posture and increase your stride by adding about 15 centimeters to the average length. Wear well-fitting shoes with good support. There are a variety of acceptable walking shoes available today at stores specializing in sports and fitness. For those of you planning to begin a walking program and those of you already engaged in one, here are a few tips:
- Swing your arms easily in opposition to your legs. That is, when the left leg is forward, the right arm should be forward and vice-versa. The trunk of your body will float along easily. The body should move as little as possible in a good walk.
- Strive for correct body alignment by keeping your feet forward and parallel, with arches lifted and balanced. Keep your abdomen flat and your hips tucked under. Your head should be erect and your chin level.
- Prepare for an easy transfer of weight by swinging your legs forward with the action initiated at the hip joint. Let your legs push.
- Take equal and comfortable steps. If possible, lengthen your stride.
- Keep your head and chin up, look proud and make your walk easy.
Keep in mind, it is never too late to become physically fit. Walking is the perfect way to begin. The end results are limitless.
The benefits . . .
- Increased strength, endurance and coordination
- Increased joint flexibility
- Reduced joint stiffness and soreness
- Reduced fatigue
- Improved ability to relax and sleep
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