Increase Cardio to Gain Strength While Losing Weight

Treadmill, bike, stair climber, elliptical...which is right for you?Cardio exercises assist you to increase your heart rate by targeting the large muscle groups. This is why most cardio workouts involve upper thigh workouts – even as simplistic as walking and running. Once a moderate level of fitness is reached, we can’t get the same cardiovascular benefits just through leg movements and so the arms are engaged to keep your heart pumping and calories burning.

The categories of home exercise equipment we use for cardio exercises are listed below. If you own these machines and aren’t seeing as much progress, try incorporating arm exercises or increasing the speed of use to take your fitness to the next level.

  • Treadmill – Studies showing that exercise on the treadmill is superior over most other fitness equipment. You can adjust the settings to suit your fitness level or energy level in the workout. You’ll be able to walk, jog or run from the comfort of your own home regardless of the weather outside your door.
  • Stationary Step Machine – This class of home gym equipment burns calories, tones and enhances hips, legs and butts. You’ll also hear them called stair climbers and some come with an electronic display showing you (amongst other things) how many calories you have burned during your workout. Not recommended for the overly obese range or for those with weak joints.
  • Stationary Bike – Bikes without wheels that you can plant in front of the television set or computer to get a quick workout in at any time. Perfect for the home gym that doesn’t have much room to spare. According to recent studies a 30 minute workout on a stationary bike per day will maintain your current fitness level while conditioning your heart for more.
  • Elliptical Trainer – One of the most popular home gym exercise equipment available. The perfect home workout for anyone with stiff or weak joints.
  • Rowing Machine – Intense cardio workouts for moderate to hard core athletes. Easily folded and stored under a bed or in a small closet making them an excellent choice for a home gym. Some models have electronics to display and store calories burned, intensity of the workout or speed.

If you’re setting up your home gym for the first time and you aren’t sure which piece of equipment you want to buy first, I suggest getting a visitor pass to a professional gym or a one-month membership. Try out the equipment and see which one suits your style and needs best before committing to the purchase. Be sure to read our reviews (currently we are working through the treadmill models) and check out our current sales. Pedometers.org checks for the best deals online and factor in shipping costs and warranties to ensure you get the best value at the lowest final price.

Defining Factors For Home Fitness Machine Purchases

For many of us there are two primary places to work out – through a gym membership or in a home gym with fitness machines.

When you first contemplate taking control of your health and fitness, the thought of working out in a public gym with all those muscular and able bodies is daunting. So why not buy some home fitness machines and begin your weight loss at home?

But wait! Before you shell out a big investment in equipment there are a few points I want to warn you about to help you make the best selection for your needs and goals. And, I’ll even save you future hassles and money in the process. Every week I watch the national flyers and evaluate costs and products, factoring in shipping or delivery, warranties and durability. That is why you’ll find my purchase recommendations change so often – I’m looking after you.

Let’s first cover the basics and then I’ll show you the best deals based on my review.

  1. Performance and Quality – Even though I can help you find the best price, based on manufacturer’s suggested retail, you will always get what you pay for. Home fitness machines are available in three levels of quality but the variances in price between mid-range and top-notch aren’t drastic. So I suggest you buy the best that you can afford and end up with equipment that lasts or has resale value once you decide to start working out at the gym. Suggested Treadmills: Nautilus T514, (more coming soon).

  2. Intended Usage – When you buy an exercise machine, choose the one that you’ll be most excited about to use. Do your best not to let price, color or salesmen sway you. With a firm budget and necessary features in mind, don’t sway or be persuaded by commercials.
  3. Home Gym Space – If the area you’ve designated for home gym space is restrictive, make sure that your new exercise equipment will work in that space. Look for machines that fold away (and be sure to check the folded size) so you can do other exercises like free weights or yoga as your body transforms.
  4. Based on Your Personal Needs – Are you a senior? Morbidly obese? Suffering from past sports injuries? These are all factors to consider before setting up the home gym. Previous injuries and other health situations may require a pre-consultation with your medical doctor or at least a fitness trainer. As an example, if you have weak knees you might not be suited for a stair climber. Another? Those with bad backs probably shouldn’t jump right into cross-country ski machines or rowers.
  5. Safety Features – Aside from built in heart rate monitors and such, consider other safety features if children will ever have access to your home gym.
  6. Difficulty Factors – It can be tricky to match the machine to your needs today and your needs in the future. You don’t want to choose expensive exercise equipment that is too difficult to master but on the other side of the coin you don’t want to choose one that you’ll outgrow in a month’s time. Shop for, and purchase, home gym equipment that matches your current skill level but has enough features to challenge you later as well.
  7. Warranty – I can’t stress this point enough. Home gym equipment takes a beating when you’re dedicated to being fit or losing weight. It has to be tough enough to stand your eagerness or at least well warrantied to have the equipment fixed for free if it breaks down. The only items Pedometers.org approves of has a minimum 5 year warranty on frames and motors. I don’t suggest settling for anything less.

Choosing A Pedometer to Lose Weight

Resolution time is upon us once again. So dust off those pedometers, we’re off to get some fit-inducing walks underway. Just by wearing your pedometer again and observing your daily steps and distance traveled will be motivational. I suggest if you are just starting out in your trek to better health, you wear it all day long for at least two weeks and journal your daily count. Once you have some new habits in place, you can wear your pedometer just for walking workouts.

If you don’t own a pedometer, or have never used one in the past, you might need a little guidance to choose the best one for your personality type, your needs, and your interest in fitness. At the most basic level, a pedometer will sense your body’s movement and count every step you take. Technology has taken this small device to do so much more though.

Once the steps are racking up, a pedometer will next convert those steps into distance traveled. It does so by learning the length of your stride. To do so you must program the pedometer to your average step (stride) length. Each model varies so you’ll have to read the instruction manual to get this accurately.

Here is a little explanation though to make sense of the measurement. Step lengths and stride lengths are often referred to as the same thing but in some cases they are different. Your step length is the distance from your heel print of one foot to the heel print of the other foot. Stride length is measured similarly by many pedometers but some explain it as the heel print of one foot to the next time that same foot imprints. Really this is a stride length of two steps, since the other foot has already touched down once.

Sometimes you can come across a fairly accurate guess-timate of stride length based on your height. For women the equation is your height x .413. For men the equation is your height x .415. This never worked for me but I have a longer than average inseam.

Enter the Multi-function Pedometer

Although all pedometers will count steps, there are others that record calories burned as well as estimating your speed and measuring pulse rate. Some will even tell you how much fat you burned and sync with your laptop or Iphone to chart your progress. If you like features in your gadgets get the best pedometer you can afford because all those charts, graphs and measurements will keep you motivated, I promise!

One of the newest features in pedometers are those that track both speed and distance. These devices use GPS technology which, when coupled with software to upload to your PC or online journals, is a lot of fun. Nike has even launched a foot pod that is embedded into your training shoes which also is stored online at their website.

Just the Basics Please – the Simple Step Counter

On the other hand, if simplicity is your game, the most basic yet accurate pedometer will be your goal. As for the numbers, you want to increase the count daily with a starting set (for the over 30 crowd) of 7000 for weight and health maintenance; 10,000-12,000 for weight loss and fitness; and 15,000 for athletic training.

How to Tell If Your Pedometer is Accurate

Accuracy becomes an obsession once you’ve owned a pedometer for a while. Dependent on your model of choice you may find that just wearing the pedometer in a different location may chance the accuracy of steps counted, or if you’re more concerned about distance traveled you may have to adjust your stride settings. Pedometers should be comfortable enough to wear all day – some will even count steps from your handbag or purse – but I prefer to wear mine on my hip with a safety leash. Safety leashes ensure your pedometer isn’t lost as you’ll soon find that you come to rely on the little gadget.

A great way to double check your pedometer for accuracy is to visit Google Maps: Pedometer. Just go there and chart your route, then compare the results with your own pedometer’s count.

Get Walking With Your New Pedometer

Keeping records for two weeks of your steps and distance keeps you motivated and here’s why. Every day you see that you’ve taken more steps than the day before and start to look for more ways to increase your step count. Walking up a flight of stairs, walking part way home, parking away from the grocery store are just three examples.

So let’s get busy walking shall we? I’ll walk with you, in my own little town and we’ll grow stronger, fitter and leaner every day. Even just the simplest little pedometer starting with just 5,000 steps a day is a great start – I know you’ll find it to be both motivational and addictive once you see the changes in your health and fitness level.

Walk Toward A Long and Healthy Life

A favorite walk to burn off calories with your pedometer.More and more people today are ending up at the mercy of their doctor’s knowledge to fix medical problems with pills and operations because they didn’t value their health when they were younger. The trouble is that fixing anything once it has broken always costs far more than maintaining it when it was working fine. And maintenance of your body and health is free.

Yes, free. You just need to put on a pair of walking shoes and put one foot in front of the other, every day. Walking is still believed to be the healthiest exercise for people of all ages, current health levels, and sizes. Easy to do and inexpensive to boot, if not completely free to every North American. It can be performed by any one, any where and any time.

Get up from your couch, move away from your desk, step back from the dinner table and start moving your feet toward a longer life.

All you need to do is make up your mind to do it, promise a commitment to yourself and your health, and start moving.

After a week of walking every day you may find that you are lacking in the will power to persevere. Dig deep inside your reasons to be fit and keep it at the front of your mind and the will power will take care of the rest. If you don’t have determination you may eventually give up before reaching your goal of better health, a longer life, or a slimmer body. If you have tired of walking for exercise then step up to brisk walking. Fast paces burn calories and is also easier on your knees and joints than running. When on a regular brisk, fast, or power walk there is less chance for an injury. Unlike jogging or running your power walk routine will have no ill side effects – unless you consider a stronger body an unpleasant end.

One way to stay motivated an on track is to pick up a top quality pedometer that tracks your progress and motivates you to do more day after day. There are many (you can see our favorite in the sidebar) available just be sure to pick one that has been reviewed by people who actually use one in their fitness routines.

The Right Fitness Equipment for You

When I first started on my quest to get into shape I bought DVDs, running shoes, a pedometer, a treadmill, and had to hold myself back from purchasing all the late-night advertised fad equipment on television. Now that I’m in shape I realize that I could have saved myself a lot of money if I’d just started out with some good shoes and a pedometer.

If you’re just starting out on your own weight loss or quest for fitness, you’re probably in the same boat. Which equipment should you buy? Which is the best deal? Which will be the most suitable for your goals and current level of fitness? After all I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of friends buying expensive treadmills only to have it collect dust and laundry in their bedrooms for years afterward.

For these reasons, choosing the right fitness equipment is for you is an important topic to consider. We can save a lot of our time and money by doing a little bit of research and understanding our goals before we whip our our wallets.

So let’s have a look at the various types of equipment and see how they fit with your budget and your workout style.

Home Weight Set

If you want to burn off fat and tone your muscles you’ll need to incorporate some weight training into your exercise routine. However you might not be ready for, or have room for, a full bench set. You can start small with just a few dumbbells in various weights to strengthen arms and abdominal muscles. These workouts help with posture and balance and your body’s ability to burn fat (metabolism). Light weights are also a good place to start in your fitness regime as nothing is more pleasing than seeing your arms toning up and your pants fitting looser as your abs get toned.

Treadmills

Out of my top 10 friends I think I am the only one to use my treadmill regularly. The treadmill helps you to run or walk while staying in one place during inclement weather, potentially dangerous outdoor surroundings, or if you just want to exercise in solitude. Running or walking on a treadmill is an effective way to get your daily 10,000 steps in easily. You can watch television while you walk or run, you can surf the web, or you can crank it up and run hard without the shock and strain on your ankles, knees and lower back. Make sure you have tried a treadmill before you buy one though. In my experience people either love them or hate them – and I don’t want to see you spending $1,000 or more on a piece of equipment that does nothing but make you feel guilty for not using it.

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines aren’t my favorite fitness equipment but many of my friends swear by them. They offer the benefit of an all-over workout with minimal joint impact. In fact they are excellent for the clinically obese and senior citizens. You can start at an easy pace and as your grow stronger, increase your row speed. Fast rowing is great for burning off calories and increasing your heart rate while strengthening your arms, abdomen, back and shoulder muscles.

Stationary Exercise Bikes

They’re everywhere and they come in all sizes and price ranges. You’ll find old ones at yard sales or even in your parents basement, as they are one of the best low-impact cardiovascular machines available. These exercise bikes don’t do much for your arm strength or toning but they are great for your heart and legs. You can watch television while exercising and you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or inclement weather. Stationary bikes are easy on your joints and are perfect for people who have more than 20 pounds to lose. Most bikes have varying levels of difficulty so you can crank up the workout as you become more fit.

Pedometers

My pedometer has been my best fitness friend for years. It keeps me accountable for activity during the day and inspires me to get walking on less active days. This is one purchase that I have never regretted. Even today I own a few different models and keep one in my purse, one in the car and one in the house – charged up and ready to go whenever and where ever I am.

Small Changes to Boost Metabolism

I recently revisited my fitness strategy and part of that included a re-evaluation of my current shape. In order to do this you have to ‘get real’, be brutally honest with yourself and take nearly naked photos. You’ll next want to look long and hard at those pictures, defining your trouble spots and make a date to begin training or altering your diet. Or both.

You’ll need to think long and hard about the possible choices you have to reach your new goals. Decisions on your fitness and health, the food you eat, how much you’ll need to exercise, and your perception of your finished weight and body shape goal.

So many people will just diet and hope that does the trick to slim down and change a body’s shape. Unless you are under the age of 25, just changing your diet won’t work. You need to include exercise in your strategy. Without exercise your body accumulates more and more fat cells. Besides making you uncomfortable about the way you look, that extra fat has many health risks as well. Just 10 pounds extra on your body increases your risk of developing much more serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancers and a propensity to heart attacks.

It’s easy to increase your daily exercise and this site is full of great ideas but I’m sure you can come up with your own. Ideally you should start with a slow 20 minute walk every day, consistently, and then look for other small ways throughout the day to move your muscles. Take the stairs, park at the far end of the parking lot, walk on a treadmill while watching your favorite shows at night. Increase your exercise once you feel yourself getting stronger by jogging, taking a cardio class, or join a gym.

If you’re still not seeing enough progress you’ll want to clean up your diet. Not by counting calories or following some fad diet plan, but by limiting portions, eating more regularly to increase your metabolism, and getting off the processed foods completely. Be conscious of every single bite you put in your mouth. Avoid fast foods as though they were poisonous – they are!

iPhit for the iPhone

Fitness and excellence in health programs are quickly merging with information and technology as you’ll find with iPHIT for the iPod and iPhone.

In 2007 the Ipod Fitness Center launched a new app that allows you to track your fitness goals and progress to an iPhone or iPod touch user. Not only that but you’ll also find that the Ipod Fitness Center functions also as a social networking community. The entire app and community were created as an added function in the iPod plus Nike product merge for enthusiasts. With interaction in the community personal fitness becomes competitive and helpful with added accountability and encouragement to other members.

iPhit (now iFIT) assists you in tracking your walking distance or speed (or jogging and running) while using the personal Nano with the Nike iPod Sensor kit. The Nike sensor in the popular running shoe or trainer is linked to the Nano for tracking purposes. All of that tracked and calculated info is then sent by the iPhit app to your iPhone.ifit

Once on the site you’ll find that the iPhit’s home page displays runs, challenges and goals – the same features available on the Nike website. Monthly targets called PARTIs and perform as personal bench marks to fitness. Through these PARTIS, community members remain challenged and accountable. Almost like a multitude of fitness partners helping each other to meet fitness goals and stay on track with personal goals.

To access the iPhit app from your iPhone or your desktop computer with the Firefox browser. Membership is free at the moment.

You must have an iFIT membership to usethe app. iFIT.com connects you with your fitness equipment through your profile – all managed, in turn, through your iFit dashboard. You can store your exercises, your diet information and weight changes.

The Exercise Metabolism Connection

Have you, in the past, started a rigorous exercise program, started eating several small meals a day, or started taking a supplement that promised to boost your metabolism? If so you have been thinking about, learning about, or attempting to alter your metabolism.

So which one works? The truth is, they all work in conjunction with a weight loss program of eating correctly and exercising regularly.

Exercise, eating strategically, and ensuring that your body has catabolism-friendly supplements are three of many generally good weight loss ideas.

If your methods of increasing your metabolic rate didn’t prove the results you’d hoped for it is likely that you are just missing one or two parts of the metabolism puzzle. You don’t need to be a scientist or struggle through medical journals to learn the ins and outs of your metabolism though. This article and others like it on Pedometers.org will help to get you on track.

On your walk to better health it is important to not risk your future health. To ensure it you’ll want to understand strategies, and techniques of increasing your metabolism while walking to lose weight – or any other exercise program. Although there are many ways to do so, the ten easiest ways will be discussed over the next few articles. You will find them all within the ‘Metabolism’ category here.

Each of the ten tips are classified in one of three categories: exercise, lifestyle and diet. However you will also notice while you read that some of the tips are equally valid in one of the other categories. As an example of this, incorporating exercise into your daily routine is also a lifestyle choice. Therefore I suggest you read every section or article to get the most value and the best weight loss results.

Since exercise is one of my favorite topics, we’ll start there…

You can’t skip exercising if you want to increase your metabolism to lose weight unless you’re born with an unusually overactive metabolism. Any cardiovascular (aka aerobic) exercise will work as long as you notice an increase in heart rate and body temperature. With the added benefits of blood circulation and oxygen intake/carbon dioxide exchange, your metabolic rate increases.

The other side of exercise, strength training, increases metabolism by building muscle. Why does this work? Well a pound of muscle will burn more calories than a pound of fat. Therefore the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn in any activity – sedentary or aerobic.

Just remember that if you workout to build muscle and then quit exercising those muscles over time, your muscle fibers deteriorate you lose the high metabolic rate that burns calories so efficiently. Adjust your intake to ensure you don’t pack on the pounds again if you stop working out.

Some Specifics About The Metabolism and Exercise Connection

The basic weight loss principle behind exercise is catabolism. By changing your body’s composition (i.e. more muscle than fat) it requires more energy and catabolism will break down cells to deliver that energy to you. Based on that logic, once you have gained a moderate comfort level with walking or other aerobic exercise you might want to look into some interval training. Interval training is a high-energy, calorie burning, exercise plan implemented on an infrequent basis.

As an example, if you walk every day try adding a twenty minute jog to your program every second day. It will increase your metabolism by building muscle and oxygen intake. Another example, if you have achieved a stronger fitness level and you jog, try adding a one minute sprint every twenty minutes that you jog. Do you see the trend here? Anything that will give your body a bit of a jolt or rush will work.

Interval training can last longer than a minute but for most people this is based o your current level of fitness. Those who are extremely fit may benefit from interval training of 30-40 minutes at a time.

As with all exercise changes, check with your doctor for specific advice and don’t overdo it with interval training. Your goal here is to become healthier and stronger, and lose weight in that process.

Of course there is much more to learn about interval training but that introduction will get you started. A hint to keep you interested in interval training is that by adding some variety to your exercise program you can give your metabolism another jolt. The variety ensures that your body doesn’t get into a comfortable groove and continues to burn calories at a faster rate.

Remember that any activity that causes your temperature to increase, your heart working harder and deeper breathing will increase your metabolism and aim for those increases regularly.

Questions About Metabolism

The Connection between metabolism, fat cells, calories and exercising.Since I started writing about metabolic rates and personal metabolism, I’ve been fielding quite a few questions from my readers.

As such I’ve decided to take a break from some of my other publishing dates and write a few articles to help you understand your metabolism better and how to work with it to change your overall health.

Metabolism is the word used to describe the process your body goes through to transform food into fuel. What it does with that fuel is a direct result of how you look today.

If you are carrying a few extra pounds this might cause you to shake your fist at your metabolism, especially so if you once had a healthy or fast metabolism in your youth but now find that it has defied you and slowed down. Before you wage war with it please understand that if you had no metabolism you wouldn’t be able to move, read this article, or click a mouse button.

In fact, nearly everything your body does on auto-pilot such as circulating blood, transforming oxygen into carbon dioxide, expelling lethal toxins through your kidneys depend on your metabolism. Given all that you have no choice but to love and appreciate it, but what of the extra pounds?

First of all stop thinking of it as some single-function fuel or fat burner. Your metabolism is at work in your body every second of every minute of every day of your life making numerous chemical conversions (also referred to as ‘metabolic functions’).

Your metabolism is a constant process that works in two seemingly opposite ways: anabolism uses energy to create cells, and catabolism breaks down cells to create energy.

Anabolism and Catabolism

Your body is continually creating new cells to replace dead or dysfunctional cells. As an example, should you cut your finger, your body instantly begins the process of creating new skin cells to clot the blood and start healing the wound. This creation process is a metabolic response. You will hear myself and others discuss it as ‘anabolism’.

Since there is always an opposite action for every bodily action or function, we have ‘catabolism’. Instead of building new cells and tissue this function breaks down energy. An example of this would be while you’re walking or exercising, your body temperature rises and your heart beat increases. Due to the increase your body will need more oxygen and so your breathing will increase naturally. If your body couldn’t adjust to this increased requirement of oxygen, you would collapse. These increases require additional resources which is carried out as converting your fuel into energy. That is the metabolic process named catabolism.

Metabolism is actually a harmonizer. Bringing together two seemingly opposite functions (anabolism and catabolism) in the best way for your body to create cells as needed, and break them down again when required.

Make sense?

Good. Let’s talk then about how your metabolism affects weight gain or loss…

Metabolism and Weight Loss

Everyone knows about calories. Counting calories going into our bodies and, if you have a pedometer that measures it, counting calories burned for steps throughout the day. Calories are simply units of measure, nothing more. They are a measure of energy.

Your body creates energy from the food you eat. It creates energy from fruits and vegetables using the same process that it uses to create energy from chocolate bars and candy.

While you know it’s better for your body to get energy from fruit and vegetables, your body doesn’t stop to evaluate the food. It will simply create energy from whatever you eat.

Although it may sound strange at first, your body really doesn’t care what you feed it in the sense of creating energy. To the body, energy is just energy. It will take whatever you feed it. It doesn’t know that some foods are healthier than others. It is rather like a garbage disposal in this manner: it will take what you put into it, whether it should or not.

So here’s what happens…When your body receives a calorie it must do something with that energy. As an example, if a broccoli spear delivers 100 calories, the body has to accept those 100 calories. The same goes for 600 calories from a chocolate bar or energy drink.

Then, your body will do one of two things to the energy. It will either metabolizes it via anabolism, or metabolize it via catabolism. That is, it will either convert the energy (calories) into cells/tissue, or it will use that energy (calories) to break down cells.

When there is an excess of energy, and the body can’t use this energy to deal with any needs at the time, it will be forced to create cells with the extra energy. It has to do something with the energy after all, especially if you aren’t putting it to use.

And those extra cells? Yup, you guessed it: added weight.

In a nutshell, the whole calorie/metabolism/weight gain thing is really just about excess energy. When there are too many calories in the body, they are transformed into fat.

Here’s the clincher though, and this is very important to understand, especially if you are walking, exercising or burning excess calories in some way. Sometimes the extra calories get transformed into muscle. And…since muscles require calories to simply maintain their mass, people with strong muscle tone burn calories without actually, physically, doing anything. The metabolism burns it for them.

That is why you want to get, build, tone, create as much lean muscle on your body as possible and in the shortest, healthiest, amount of time. Muscle ‘ownership’ boosts your metabolism. The more lean muscle you have, the lower the risk of excess calories being transformed into fat.

Now that you understand the basics of metabolism, muscles, energy and fuel, we can discuss how to use your specific metabolic rate – at any age – to help rid you of those extra pounds. Before you go however I have one more point to share. You may have heard that fat cells are permanent. I wish I could tell you that it isn’t true! Most health and diet experts agree that once fat cells have been created, they’re permanent. But don’t let this stop you on your trek back to health and fitness. Even though experts believe that fat cells are permanent, they also agree that fat cells can be shrunk. Therefore, even if the number of fat cells in your body remains the same, their size, appearance and percentage of your overall weight, can be reduced.

Weight Loss Is Just A Walk Away

Walking for Weight LossWalking – one of the simplest exercises – is also one of the best exercises you can do to achieve weight loss.

If you’re just starting to consider getting in shape, losing some weight, and taking charge of your health, walking is a great way to kick off your planned program. Regardless of age, regardless of current physical condition, nearly everyone can walk off the weight – even if just at the beginning of a full blown, back to health, program.

Whenever you embark on any new exercise program you’ll first want to check in with your doctor to inform him or her about your plans. Your doctor may have some helpful tips and guidelines based on your current state of fitness, your age, or any illnesses you may have. Either way – whether you go to the doctor or not – it is always a good idea to take it slow to start.

To begin a new walking program you’ll want to first get a pedometer so you can track your progress. You don’t need anything fancy to get started but having a heart rate monitor and the ability to upload your daily steps to your computer via USB cable are two nice features I couldn’t do without. You’ll also want a pair of comfortable and supportive walking shoes.

Begin by going for a 10 minute walk 3 times a week. Although this may sound overly cautious, it is the safest way to begin any new weight loss program. Now that you have started your new walking program and you have made a commitment to yourself to stick with it, start adding 10 more minutes to each walk every week. Should you experience difficultly breathing do not become discouraged, just walk a little slower until your heart and lung function catch up to your journey into better health. Again, it may be prudent to check back in with your doctor.

Within the month of your new walking program you will begin to see your hard work pay off. You will have more energy and your clothes will start fitting much looser. With just a 30 minute walk every day you should also be experiencing:

  • See an increase in your overall fitness level.

  • Notice changes in the tone of your muscles.
  • Feel better and look better.
  • Discover an increase in energy levels.
  • Feel less stressed.
  • Get better nights sleep.
  • Be in a better mood and less prone to depression.
  • Notice a difference on the scale.
  • Find that muscles, joints and bones are stronger.

There are many benefits to a walking program! As you can see it leads to much more than just weight loss. The longer you stick with the program, the easier it becomes. Before you know it you’ll be just like me and have developed a new, positive, lifelong habit.

Walking Regularly But Not Losing Weight?

Recent research suggests that most walking programs will have minimal effect on weight loss all due to lack of consideration of metabolism. How can this be so when thousands of people every moment are initiating daily walks into their already busy schedules to help them get or stay fit?

The primary reason that research of walking programs don’t show evidence of weight loss or an increase in health is that ‘on the books’ the number of calories burned off during a walk is relatively small in comparison to other workout programs. As an example, a two mile brisk walk burns only 90 more calories than staying at home. Ninety calories equates to the caloric value of a low-sodium, low-calorie bowl of chicken soup.

Furthermore it would take nearly three months of a regular walking routine of three brisk walks a week to lose roughly 500 grams of fat.

Research also suggests that “a lack of time” is given as the most popular excuse for not exercising, and that it becomes quite unlikely that people would be able to find time three days per week for a walk.

With all that said you’re probably wondering what then, is the best method of exercise for weight loss.

If so, there are more factors to consider than just the exercise you’re considering. You must factor in your age as well as your lifestyle and learn at least a little about human metabolism. You see, after age 30 we all lose between 200-300 grams of muscle tissue per year – this causes our metabolism to slow down. When your metabolism slows, excess body fat accumulates where the lost muscle tissue once was. Considering that almost all body fat and dietary fats are burned within muscle tissue you can see how this becomes a downhill problem and an uphill battle as the years go on.

To reverse this natural function, you might consider adding some strength training exercises (to rebuild some of that lost muscle tissue) to increase your fat burning engine – your metabolism – capability.

Here’s where this gets really interesting…once you have regained some of your health and fitness level again, research proves that up to 44% more body fat can be lost when a strength training program is implemented – in comparison to no change in your physical routines but only restricting caloric intake (a diet).

All things considered it is muscle that is the secret weapon to fighting fat. Muscle mass burns fat, increases metabolism, improves the shape of your body and gives you more strength. With more muscle tissue and less fat on your body, you will have a slim and sculpted physique. You will find it is easier to stay slim and look younger as well. Research again proves that a fit body gives the appearance of youth and can shave years off your true age.

So while you’re walking, or in conjunction with your walking program, consider every muscle and consider different ways to increase your muscle mass. Muscles hold the key, the secret to your metabolism and burn that fat throughout your body. By flexing your muscles you are kicking your metabolism into gear and the effects are longer lasting than just the workout time. You will continue, over time, to burn a higher amount of fat all day long.

Here’s another benefit to building muscles that not too many people talk about…the more muscle you have the more you increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Insulin greatly enhances your ability to lose weight. Many of our nation’s overweight are moderately to highly insulin-resistant as long as they are lacking in muscle tissue. Two to three strength training sessions per week are all it would take to correct this resistance and begin the fat burning process. Plus, with a higher metabolic rate you will be able to consume more calories throughout the day while losing weight and without any fad diets.

A Custom Walk-for-Weight-Loss Program

Walking Program - Trails and BoardwalksWinter, spring, summer or fall – it doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, there always seems to be a few pounds we’d love to lose. In the spring, there seems to be more – especially when we’re pulling out our summer wardrobe.

So let’s get walking shall we? Somewhere in your drawers you probably have a pedometer. If you don’t have a feature rich one like my favorites (below and at right) then you’ve at least got an application on your phone or MP3 player that will do for now. However, how do you plan a custom program to drop the pounds while walking?

I’m hoping this article will get you started.

Although walking will help you with weight loss to get the most out of it you’ll want to walk long enough to burn calories, tighten muscles and increase your metabolism.

To begin focus on steps taken (distance) before you focus on aerobic or heart rate (speed). You want to ease yourself back into fitness and not burn out before re-establishing good habits, routine and form.

And don’t worry about not getting enough effect for the time you’re investing early on in your program. You can burn nearly the same amount of calories with a long, slow walk as you can with a short, fast walk. It is all about consistency of the day at any stage of your program. For instance, there will be some days that you want to take a long and leisurely walk (think Saturday mornings on the beach boardwalk). While on other days you may want to power walk, burn up a lot of energy and calories, and really get your heart pumping and your metabolism in full swing (think of early morning walks before an intense staff meeting at the office).

The intensity or lack of isn’t really what matters when you’re just starting out as long as you are happy and comfortable and consistently getting out there. Make a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 to 60 minutes per day, your focus and let your energy level determine intensity of the day.

A word or two about the ‘stroll’. For maximum health, weight and cardiovascular benefits, you will want to make sure that you are walking quickly enough to increase your heart rate for the majority of the walk, so when I say ‘stroll’ I really mean something just a little under a power walk. The experts will tell you that for weight loss you should be walking 30 to 60 minutes at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate once your fitness level demands it.

Once you have established a routine of 5 days per week you might want to increase your pace, change your route, add some ankle or wrist weights, or change your walking style (see my previous article for walking ‘tricks’ to keep you motivated).