One can also call this little piece ‘The Lazy Man’s Guide to Fitness’, or the ‘How to Use Your Legs, for Dummies’. Call it what you may, but walking is one of the easiest and best ways to get fit. It requires little to nothing for you to simply stand up and start walking, and while that sentence kind of defeats the purpose of this piece, one needs to understand how to approach walking as a sincere exercise. That is what it is, walking is the exercise you need to begin immediately! That is, immediately after reading this simple guide on how to take your proverbial first steps in treating walking as a sincere exercise.
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when setting of on your first few walks:
Make a walking-buddy
It is best if you can have someone walk with you instead of having to walk all by yourself. The conversations that ensue not only make the walk fun, it will also help you distract yourself from the burning muscles in the first few days. Having someone walking along side you also encourages a healthy sense of competition. Except you may have to be careful to not let that escalate into an all-out sprinting competition, because what that will do to your lower body will ensure you not walk straight for the next few days.
Find the right location
While it may be all a matter of motivation if you have a treadmill, walking outdoors requires a little bit of awareness as to where you are walking. Walking uphill works well to strengthen your hamstring, glutes and calves while downhill acts more towards strengthening your quads. On the other hand walking on level ground can do wonders for your lower-back and abdomen. Find a different route when you can and throw in some crests and troughs for good measure. In case you are a dweller of the plains, you can make the most of the stairs!
Scale up Slowly
It is important to not burn yourself out on the first day itself. It not only makes the second day
exponentially harder, it also increases your chances of seriously injuring yourself. If you have been Rapunzel-like the past few years, isolated and un-walking, you’d do well to start with 15-20 minutes a day. Let this go on for the first week, you can take it up to half an hour next. After that sky is the limit, you can very well be walking up inclines with weights in each hand and strapped on each calf one day. Except that you’ll have to be walking like regular people at least for the first few months.
Technology has come to the aid of couch-potatoes everywhere. Find yourself a trustworthy pedometer, it is important to quantify your efforts in order to increase your performance. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all time to keep yourself hydrated. If you walk when it is sunny make sure you have enough sunscreen on you. Walking can get repetitive and thus boring, it would be a good idea to make a playlist for exactly as long as you intend to walk. That would be a great way to time your walk and listen to some tunes at the same time.
Use the right technique
Unless you are fond of aching joints, it would be a good idea to invest in a good pair of shoes. When walking find the right pace, do not go too slow or too fast. Strike the ground lightly with your heel, flatten the foot and push off with your toe. Make sure that your arms are swinging along your sides in a smooth motion to help you give your stride a natural grace. Unlike popular perception nothing really comes out of taking those long strides, shorter but quicker steps are far more effective in helping you stay fit.