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Walking for Fitness (cont.)

Another Tip When Walking for Weight Loss

  • Step 3: Walk faster and seek variety. In this 16-week segment, you'll find the athlete within. Speed up your walking and you'll see total body fitness improvements. A couple days a week, go fast enough to break a sweat and breathe hard.
    • Use the 1-to-10 scale of perceived rate of exertion to measure endurance. Think of 1 as watching TV; 10 is sucking air (you can't go any farther). Daily walks, for example, are 5 or even 6-6.5 sometimes. Twice a week, crank it up to 7, 8, or 9 on a steep hill for a few minutes. Now you're burning serious calories and building real aerobic fitness through interval training.
    • Need variety? Complement your walking with a counterbalancing exercise such as martial arts, yoga, water aerobics, or a court sport like tennis.
    • Goal: Walk in a 5K or 10K event such as a corporate cup run/walk, a fundraising race for the cure, or other organized community activity.
    • How to measure progress: Other than simply feeling great and watching the scale, you can actually measure what walking is doing for your body. Before you begin your activity program, have your doctor check your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose (high levels can be a sign of early or undiagnosed diabetes), and your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a number that reflects your height-to-weight ratio (simply take your weight in pounds, multiply by 703 and divide by your height in inches squared -- keep this number under 25 for optimal health).
    • Measure again at 26 and 52 weeks. You'll see marked improvements but not necessarily on the scale. You may be turning fat into muscle, which weighs more than fat. The best measure is how you feel -- about yourself.
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