Stay Fit at Any Age

Walk for Fitness at All AgesIf you’ve ever been on a dieting or fitness roller coaster you’ll have already learned that we need to work out or walk regularly to to stay fit. However our overly busy lives often keep us from our fitness program once we’ve met our goals.

This has often caused me to wonder why I keep running across research reports stating that we have more leisure time today than any other time in history. How can that be? I seldom feel as though I have leisure time and I know a lot of you are over-stretched and stressed out as well. Regardless of work obligations, looking after our homes and children (and in some cases our parents), we need to take care of ourselves and stay in shape. This becomes ever more important as we pass the age of 40 years when we find that we’ll have to work harder to lose five pounds or re-build muscle.

The superior strategy dictates that if we’re in shape it is far easier to maintain that state than have to fight our way back after a month of letting life get in the way or worse, working out too hard and pulling a muscle or spraining an ankle on our walk.

In the last five years I’ve been following the advice of author Tosca Reno as we’re similar in stature and age. Tosca recommends staying on track by making intelligent and clean eating choices, to eat five or six small meals a day, and drink plenty of water. This style of eating literally fuels your body with a steady flow of energy, keeps your metabolism humming along and minimizes the risk of suffering from highs and lows throughout the day.

How frequent you eat is as important of what you eat. You need a balanced diet of carbs, protein, fiber and fats to maintain your energy balance. Tosca suggests eating carbs with a protein in the morning and working through your food choices to fresh fruits and vegetables with proteins by the end of the day. I can’t give the full systematic eating program in this short article but she has written many books on the subject, the latest of which is “Your Best Body Now”.

Aside from eating, hydrating and remaining consistent in your workout schedule you might also consider the shoes on your feet – especially if you need a little extra motivation to stay active. Since different workouts require different shoes make sure your sneakers are in good shape and suitable for the job at hand. If you love to power walk or jog you’ll already know that the average walking or jogging trainer will give you about 500 miles before they wear out. Even less if you have any deviation in a neutral gait (many of us do).

If you are worrying or wondering about your stride and gait but aren’t committed to visiting a podiatrist or orthotic specialist, you may find that by taking your old sneakers into the store you might be able to get some free advice about a more suitable style for your needs. Specialty fitness stores may be able to retro-fit a new pair of sneakers with special insoles to balance your gait and therefore reduce the chance of injury. For years I hadn’t known of the risks involved by wearing the wrong shoes for the exercise but after many years of reading and sharing with other enthusiasts I now realize.

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!

Increase Your Metabolism While Walking Off The Weight

Walking with A Pedometer Increase Metabolic RateThere is a lot more to walking for weight loss than simply putting 9,999 steps in front of the first one. In fact you can increase your walking skill while losing weight and increasing your metabolism (which will serve you well for a long time).

Improving your ability and durability during walks will improve the way you look and feel.

Although walking for fitness might seem like a simple activity, people often develop bad habits in their walking that make walking more difficult and less effective.

Add inclines in your walk. Walking up a hill works a different set of muscles and increases your heart rate in the process.

Vary your stride. Walk with a lighter step and alter your walk with bouts of faster walking. Walking with a lighter step reduces jarring and is easier on your joints than a hard step. Walking faster increases your heart rate and helps you burn more fat.

Watch your stance. Keep your waist and weight over the stationary leg of each step. In a sense you will be holding your hips back from the stepping leg. When you walk, let your knee go forward and then your hips. Be conscious of every muscle’s movement in every step you take.

Check your muscle tension, especially the back of your neck. When you walk quickly, see if you can notice tension in the back of your neck and focus on releasing that tension by relaxing your neck.

In following articles we’ll discuss other ways to improve your metabolic rate overall while walking your way to fitness.

Easy Exercise Program Increases Metabolism and Speeds Weight Loss

Understand just the basics about metabolism and you can speed your weight loss. Master your metabolism and you will improve your endurance. What a good exercise program does is increase your metabolism while you’re getting fit to then remove excess fat while leaving your fluid levels intact. The end result is lean muscle strengthened, and an increased metabolism that will carry on burning fat for a long time to come.

As always…check with your doctor before beginning any weight loss program or exercise regime.

If you build your exercise and intensity (slowly) you will burn fat and increase muscle – which, in turn, increases your metabolism. Here is a sample program of consistency and moderation in an easy exercise program.

Start with a few stretching exercises and a brisk twenty minute walk, followed by more stretching exercises.

If you own a pedometer, chart your progress over the course of a week – increasing your steps or distance traveled daily.

Once you are up to, and comfortable with, 15,000 steps a day, it will be time to work on your upper body strength. Tricep dips, push ups and crunches are simple exercises that everyone knows how to perform. Do as many as you can today, and increase your repetitions every day.

Alter your strength training with walks throughout the week. When you’re ready for a new challenge, move onto some lower body workouts after your walks by doing repetitions of squats or following a DVD step workout.

As you lose weight and start feeling more fit, keep stretching but add in the walks, the upper body workouts and the lower body workout and your metabolism will start kicking in and working for you all day. In time you start feeling better about yourself as you do more. You may even want to incorporate or revisit other exercises in your program that you enjoy. Swimming, cycling, spin class at the gym, whatever you choose as long as you enjoy it and it keeps you moving!

Sleep, Stress, and The Effects of Each on Your Metabolism

Women as well as men have to work hard these days to balance work, family, hobbies, social commitments and volunteer activities – the steady fast pace isn’t great for our metabolisms however.

First and foremost as a nation we aren’t getting enough sleep per day and this one factor can undermine all of your other efforts to increase your metabolism, burn more calories and keep you healthy. Too many tasks on our plate are the most often cause. While getting enough sleep improves metabolism, if you are regularly sleep deprived you will have less energy to perform even the easiest exercises.

Plus, the sleep deprived lower their own metabolism. Without enough strength to efficiently break down food, perform strength or interval training, breath deeper and so on, the metabolic rate is damaged and only one thing can help to give it a boost or get it back on track – more sleep!

Am I suggesting that you get fit by sleeping instead of exercising? Yes if you are currently not getting enough regular sleep and need to get back on track to healthy living. For the first few weeks try taking casual walks at the end of your day and ensure you rest for at least 7 hours every night. Make healthy living your priority and you will find that you will be rewarded by a happier body, a slimmer physique and a higher metabolism. Sleep is part of healthy lifestyle choices.

Are you an incurable insomniac? You’ll still need to get yourself into bed for at least seven hours per day. No reading, television watching or listening to MP3s through headphones either. This time must be reserved for resting. Eventually, once your body realizes that you mean business, you will start sleeping for most of those seven hours. Try any non-prescriptive tip you can find until you discover what’s keeping you up at night and vow never to do it again.

Some tips to get you started are: don’t eat late at night, drink 6-8 ounces of warm milk before bedtime, turn off that television, learn yoga or meditation, have a warm and fragrant bath before bedtime, don’t drink caffeine drinks after noon, don’t perform high aerobic exercises close to bedtime.

Over the years many people I’ve spoken to about the sleep and metabolism connection state that yoga and meditation helped them the most. Learning how to relax through either or both of these activities is also another of the key influence of your metabolism, namely dealing with stress.

Experts believe stress can send unwanted signals to our body, signals that lead to slower metabolism. Essentially, when the body is under constant stress, it releases stress hormones that flood the system. These stress hormones actually tell the body to create larger fat cells in the abdomen (belly fat). The result can be both increased weight and a slower metabolism.

Now that you see how stress can wreak havoc on your body as well as your metabolic rate, isn’t it time to change some things in your life? You’ll be happier, healthier and thinner for it in the end.

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.

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).

The Advantage of Walking for Fitness

Stretch Before Every Walk with Your Pedometer
Before walking for fitness with a pedometer, stretch your muscles to warm them up.

Walking for fitness, health and exercise is one of the best and easiest ways to get back into shape, strengthen your immune system (helping you to fight disease). Walking is also helpful to lower blood pressure, which keeps your blood pumping efficiently and increases metabolism. If you have slightly elevated LDL levels walking can help keep cholesterol in control too.

Not just for your inner body as well. Walk with a pedometer on a regular schedule and you’ll find your muscles strengthening while you lose weight.

Wondering how to get started? Although every person reading this will be at a different level of fitness nearly everyone should wear a pedometer for at least a week, counting their steps per day, and then setting goals for following weeks at an increase of 10-20%.

If you begin to take walks at a normal pace you can gradually step into a brisker pace each week, lengthen the time of your walks or add more aerobically challenging activities to your exercise time. No matter what level you are at, you should always warm up with a few stretches before you begin and cool down by walking slowly at the end of your workout.

All new exercise program should be worked into. For example if you are intending to eventually strength train a walking fitness program will bring you to the level required to build up enough muscle tone for your next program.

Walking for fitness programs often run on a seven day workout plan. In such a program you would use a diary, journal or log of activity to record progress and goals. Your primary goal would be to start walking each day. Do so for ten consecutive minutes at a minimum. Eventually you would work yourself up to 20 minutes per day.

A great way to stay motivated is to start or join a team of other pedometer walkers. Being part of a team will inspire you to stay focused, engaged and motivated. If you all being as new walking for fitness participants you can progress at the same rate (given similar ages and body types).

To push yourself or your team too early in your fitness program is to invite failure as a result of over-exertion. Overexertion is the most common reason people eventually give up on walking for fitness.

When your group is ready – or when you are ready as an individual – change your walking time to faster paced walks. These brisk walks shrink your risk of heart attack or a stroke, reduce the risks of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more.

Walking Your Way Back to Health with A Pedometer

MP3 Pedometer: Walk With A Furry FriendSo you’ve decided that this is the year you’re going to get in shape and stay in shape, yes? Here at Pedometers.org we want to work with you to keep you on track with your fitness goals. We have a lot of exciting developments planned over the next year and we’d like you to be part of our online family.

Even if the pedometer you are using is an older or simple monitor you can still walk with us – virtually – and meet those fitness goals. If you don’t have a pedometer yet and you’re sticking to budget with your back-into-shape regime, grab a simple step counter and let’s get moving!

In the end you don’t really need to track every mile you walk or every calorie you burn. As long as you are in relatively good health you also won’t need to worry about your heart rate or any of the other special features that many modern pedometers offer. However, with that said, if you’re walking alone you might like to have an MP3 capable pedometer so you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts or motivational tracks while you walk. It’s a great way to work out.

There are but a few basics to getting back into shape with a pedometer. First of all – unless you have a model that supports pocket or purse tracking, you’ll want to remember to always place your pedometer on your waist or hips for precise measurement and accurate step counts. The best place is directly above your hip bone so if you’re wearing a low-riding pant you may need to clip the pedometer on the bottom of a tight fitting shirt to get an accurate reading.

Next you’ll need to find some time to walk every day. This could be a morning walk with the dog, an after dinner walk around the block or, if the weather is terrible, just walking in place during the evening news or your favorite television show. Whatever you decide to do you’ll want your first goal to be taking 10,000 steps per day to get started. If you are carrying a lot of extra weight right now you can work out a plan for yourself to build up to that over the first or second week.

I know that 10,000 steps sounds like a lot but hear me out. On average the Monday to Friday,9-5 desk employee walks just under 2000 steps a day just going about normal activity. If this is your lifestyle you really only need to find an extra 8,000 steps more per day. On another post you’ll find some easy suggestions to incorporate more steps into your day – decreasing the time needed to meet your goal by day’s end.

If you will be working your way up to 10,000 steps per day please do it slowly. In fact you might want to speak to your doctor about your plans before you begin a walking regime. We are not doctors at Pedometers.org and have no idea of your current physical condition.

If you’ll be meeting your initial goal by walking outside you’ll need a good pair of sneakers or running shoes. Again, if you’re on a tight budget you might consider purchasing a pair of orthotic insoles as inserts into an older pair of running shoes you own. You will appreciate the extra support and shock absorbing value of a good shoe or insole after your first few walks. Furthermore either will help you keep your balance and support your joints while you walk yourself fit.

So, are you ready? Great! Let’s get walking….

For the first few days we suggest wearing your pedometer all day while you go about your daily business. At the end of each day write down the number of steps you already take to see if you fit into the ‘normal’ range. Our normal or average is about 2,000 per day just walking around the office, to lunch and to the car. However you may not park as far away from the office as we do or need to hand deliver messages and letters to co-workers. The point is, everyone is different.

Keeping in mind that your first goal is to walk a total of 10,000 steps per day increase your daily average by 1,000 to 2,000 steps per day until you are consistently and easily finishing the day at your goal.

To give you an idea of what is ahead for you, 10,000 steps per day helps the average person maintain their current weight given no other changes. 15,000 gets you moving towards losing weight.

The reason we start out at 10,000 is because you’ll be building muscle tone in the beginning and muscle tone increases your metabolism making your body more efficient at burning fat and losing weight (among other benefits).

If your primary goal is to loose weight it is in the third week or so that you might want to start weighing yourself regularly and keeping an eye on your food intake for high value foods. Remember food is fuel for the body and you’ll want to cut back on all the unhealthy diet choices to aid your body into efficient operation. Keep your journal updated with your healthy choices, the number of steps taken from your pedometer each evening and your weight. Just don’t get too hung up on the actual weight reading – muscle weighs more than fat and you’ll be building muscle during this process. If you are really concerned about your weight or size purchase a fat loss monitor (see the top of the page for a link to our review) for less than $40. They are as handy and as inspirational to have as a personal use pedometer.

You’re probably wondering what happens after 10,000 or 15,000 steps per day. Once you have reached your weight or fitness goal and are ready to increase your aerobic exercise to stay fit, gain better health overall or to support your heart.

Most doctors and fitness experts will caution to not be in a rush to take it to the next level and we agree. Keep wearing your pedometer and taking your 10,000 or 15,000 steps daily for at least another 4 months. It has been researched that it will take an average of six months for any activity to become a habit. You want this daily activity to be one of your new habits so that you can enjoy a lifetime of health so keep at it for another four months or so before moving onto a new regime or activity.