IF POOR WEATHER OR uninviting terrain keeps you from walking outside, try a treadmill. Treadmill walking exercises the buttocks, calves, thighs and hips, but it’s the heart that gets the most benefit. Many of today’s machines combine changing inclines and controlled pacing to create a routine in which cardiovascular benefits equal those of a lengthy run or bike ride.
Proper posture is important with any exercise. Keep your back straight and head high, with your eyes looking ahead never down. Make sure your shoulders are level and your weight is centered over your feet. Your feet should be pointed straight ahead.
Because the ground moves under you, you may forget to push off with your toes, which can cause your shins to ache. To avoid this, consciously maintain a natural walking stride.
When walking, never look behind you-you might misstep and far. Refrain from holding the handrails, as men; this transfers energy to your upper body and decreases the cardiovascular effect. For the maximum aerobic benefit, swing both arms, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
Plan to walk every other day for about one hour. This allows you five to 10 minutes for warm up, a 45-minute cardiovascular segment and five minutes for cooldown. To burn fat, you should work out at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate for the 45-minute segment. If your goal is the cardiovascular improvement, you’ll want to push yourself to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 15 minutes.
Beginners. If you’ve never walked on a treadmill start at about 2 miles per hour, a pace that will allow you to gain balance and security. Once you’re comfortable on the machine, find the top speed at which you can walk you’ll use this for your cardiovascular segment. For most people, this is around 3.5 to 4.5 mph (racewalkers can get up to about 5 or 6 mph).
Intermediate/advanced. Three factors shape the intensity of your workout: frequency, speed and duration. As you progress, never increase more than one element at a time.
Add variety to your workout with interval programs: Walk one minute fast, then one minute slow for 15 to 30 minutes this increases cardiovascular capacity much faster than a steady pace. You can extend the length of time of the intervals and the duration of the interval segment as you progress.
Some people prefer walking with weights-hand weights and weight belts are both popular. But each method is controversial in the medical community; some exercise physiologists feel walking with weights increases the possibility of lower back or joint problems. If you walk with hand weights, use one- to three-pound weights and never exaggerate the swing in your arms.