Maple Knoll Village


Walking for Fitness as Prescribed by Maple Knoll’s Physical Therapist!

DSC_0066Summer is here, and it is time to shake off the dust from the winter. Walking is the number 1 for of exercise for over 80% of Americans. As a Physical Therapist, I live my entire life seeing the benefits of exercises.

My philosophy is that walking is free time. When you get into a regular walking program, your body becomes more efficient, and as a result you need less sleep. If you get into the habit of walking an hour a day, you will likely end up needing an hour less sleep per night.

How to get started: Everyone is at a different level, so where you start depends on what you are used to doing. For some, it may be using a walker with assistance to walk 50 feet 2 times a day. For others, it may be starting with a 30 minute walk every day.
The most effective way to exercise is to do it every day. Start with good walking shoes/running shoes, or hiking boots. . If you buy new shoes consider going to the Running Spot so you can have your shoes fitted to you. They should fit right away; you should not have to break them in.

Take a few minutes to stretch your calves, and hamstrings before and after you walk. Start by walking every other day. Start at a distance where you are not tired the first week. If you are breathing too heavy to talk, you are working too hard. The general rule of thumb is that if you can carry on a normal conversation, you are probably walking at a good pace.

Now the key is to be consistent, and increase every week so your body has a chance to adapt. Here is an example walking program.

Week 1 M,W, Sat 20 minute walk in neighborhood, at the mall etc.
Week 2 M, W, F, Sat 20 minute walk
Week 3 M, T, W, F, Sat 20 minute walk
Week 4 M, T, W, Th, F, Sat 20 minute walk
Week 5 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 20 minute walk
Week 6 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 20 minute walk (4 min easy, 1 min faster, repeat 3 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 7 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 20 minute walk (3 min easy, 2 min faster, repeat 3 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 8 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 20 minute walk (2 min easy, 3 min faster, repeat 3 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 9 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 20 minute walk (1 min easy, 4 min faster, repeat 3 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 10 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 25 minute
walk (4 min easy, 1 min faster, repeat 4 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 11 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 25 minute walk (3 min easy, 2 min faster, repeat 4 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 12 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 25 minute walk (2 min easy, 3 min faster, repeat 4 times, then 5 min easy)
Week 13 M, T,W, Th, F, Sat, Sun 25 minute walk (1 min easy, 4 min faster, repeat 4 times, then 5 min easy)

This is 3 months of gradual increases. 10% increase per week in distance, or intensity is a good way to let your body adapt to the new stress. You can continue to add time, or effort, or find some hills to walk on to make it more challenging.

At this point, you may be ready to enter a walk for charity, or start a walking club with friends. Studies show that if you have a goal, you are more likely to stick with the program.

Do not be discouraged if you do not lose weight for a couple months. Generally the first month, your muscles are getting bigger and stronger.

Also, drink water before and after you walk to keep hydrated. If you are dehydrated, your body thinks it is starving and burns muscle instead of fat.

Remember, that no matter how slow you are walking, you are still lapping the person sitting on the couch.

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