Read these 20 Walking Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Exercise tips and hundreds of other topics.
Forget stretching to limber up before your fitness walking. Instead, walk at an easy pace for five or ten minutes until you're warm before kicking into high gear walking for exercise.
When you finish your walking session, do at least three static, not bouncing stretches for 30 seconds on each leg.
As a beginning racewalker, you will probably experience sore shins. This is probably not shin splints or other injury, but the result of using the muscles in the front of the lower leg, especially the tibialis anterior, which usually isn't worked much, especially during walking for exercise.
You can treat the soreness with ice and rest, and be ready to go out again in a day or two. The muscles will get stronger with use, but you can help that by walking around on your heels and stretching by pulling your toes down gently.
Who knows why when you take a step forward with your left foot (when walking/jogging/running/sprinting) your right arm comes forward? Why doesn't your left arm follow your left foot? Why then (maybe) if we walk properly allowing, our left foot to step forward and our right arm to go forward, will that enhance our posture? This explanation is going to get pretty wordy, so find a picture of human anatomy online somewhere if you want to learn/understand even more. Let us take a trip down the glory of anatomy lane...
When you step forward with your left foot, your right foot is now back behind you. This means your right glute (butt) is flexed. Your glute is attached to the aponeurosis of your erector spinae, also called your lumbodorsal fascia, (I know they're big words, but it really just means the middle of your lower back). This all attaches to the vertebrae in your spine (lower back/lumbar area) and so does your Latissimus Dorsi muscle! (your mid-back muscles) So your opposite Lat muscle flexes, being your left Lat, pulling down your scapula (wing-looking bone in your upper back). As your left Lat pulls down your left scapula, your left deltoid muscle (left shoulder) comes down with it. This in turn swings your left arm forward. Whoo - Now breathe...yes, breathe.... There is a direct relationship (because of the aponeurosis of your erector spine) between your opposing gluteal and latissimus dorsi muscles, which is why your arms swing opposite your legs. What does this mean for our walking posture? Oh i'll tell you, but in the next paragraph.
Ah, welcome to the next paragraph. Next time you walk, watch your arms and legs. If you take short steps, you are more than likely not having your arms swing much. Or if you are taking good sized (comfortable) steps and your arms don't swing much, don't be alarmed. Most people (and I do mean most) have 'tight' Latissimus Dorsi muscles that have become weak because of over-worked/stressed upper Trapezius muscles. Next time you walk, try to swing your arms a little bit while keeping your shoulders down and locked in place (not letting them move up/down/side to side). The more the swing, the more your Lat's work and the better your posture becomes. Your Lat's are one of the muscles that, if strong, holds you up very tall and relieves most back pain. Do your best to check yourself out when you walk, and swing those arms a bit to enhance that posture!
In this hectic world, you even have to jot down walking in your day planner. You should do walking exercise three to five times a week, with a heart rate in your target zone for 15 to 60 minutes. If you can't do more than 15 minutes at a time, try to work in two or three 15-minute sessions. Schedule walking for exercise in advance, and keep the appointment.
When people say, "You're too intense about your fitness walking," take it as a compliment. You need to measure your intensity.
The recommendation for a walking exercise "training heart rate" is 60 to 80 percent of the fastest your heart can beat in a minute. Figure your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age in years from 220. Multiply the result by 0.6 and 0.8 to get the bottom and top of your target zone for aerobic training through walking for exercise. You can also check how long it takes you to walk a mile, then check again periodically to see your improvement.
Staying at a healthy weight is often difficult for busy people, but any doctor will tell you that it must remain a top priority. Fitting a fifteen-minute walk into our daily schedule is something anyone can do. Whenever possible, walk in the early morning or late evening and wear sunblock lotion. Minimizing sun exposure will keep skin healthy and youthful. If it's only possible to do a walk during the lunch hour, try to wear a hat or cap.
The increase in oxygen intake during walking will give your brain a boost, increasing alertness and concentration. Walking in the great outdoors will brighten anyone's mood, so any sadness and depression will fade away.
Fitness walking can be as good for building fitness as running, if you work as hard. It's not the kind of exercise, but how it's performed that matters. Yes, it really is all about how you play the game.
Unfit people may be able to get their heart rate into a training zone by walking faster than usual, but as you get more fit you may have trouble walking fast enough so you will have to go uphill when walking for exercise, or learn racewalking technique.
There are two rules for racewalking. Official races are judged and you must obey these rules.
(1) Your knee must be straight when your foot strikes the ground and remain straight until your body passes over that foot.
(2) One foot must be on the ground at all times when walking.
Violating the 1st rule is called "creeping" and violating the 2nd is called "lifting." Don't break the rules unless you want to go walking home in defeat.
Your car can actually help you in walking for exercise. Use your car's odometer or the rule of ten city blocks to a mile to measure different walking routes. After all, you don't want to walk the same route every day. Two miles per fitness walking course is a good start, or you can work with just one mile if you are a beginner, and do it more times as you progress.
All you really need for walking exercise is a good pair of walking shoes. Choose a pair with a firm heel cup for stability and plenty of room for toes so they can spread out as they push off when you're walking for exercise. Wear loose, comfortable clothes. In cool weather, dress in layers as you will warm up some if you walk a good distance.
Clearly, it's important to stretch lower body muscles after walking. It's also a good idea to stretch upper body, especially the shoulders. Your arm swing actually drives your leg stride when you are walking briskly. Keeping your upper body flexible and moving easily, both sides, keeps your body in balance.
Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer, er, Walker, er, Racewalker.
Walking speed is a function of stride length and turnover (how fast you move your legs.) There is a limit to how much you can lengthen your stride, so when fitness walking and racewalking, concentrate on increasing turnover. Artificially increasing your stride, overstriding, can actually slow you down as your heel comes down too far in front, causing a braking action.
And there's good news for shorter people Long legs take longer to bring around, and some of the best racewalkers are of less than average height (think Speedy Gonzales.)
Good racewalking technique includes an arm swing that takes your fist from your hip to mid-chest, with your elbow bent 90 degrees. Remember swinging your arms when walking as a kid?
Lift your toe as high as you can when your heel strikes the ground, and stride during walking exercise so your feet are almost one in front of the other. The high toe allows you to roll forward off your heel when power walking and racewalking, so you get a better push with your toes. Rotating your hips inward so your foot comes down in front of the other lengthens your walking stride.
Are you ready for the competition? Let's get it on! This is not your grandmother's fitness walking--unless Grandma is a triathlete!
Formal racewalking competitions are judged. The judge will warn you, and can disqualify you for breaking either of the rules (see Rules tip). You have to wear shorts so the judge can see your knees. Judges are helpful before and after the race, but tend to be tough on enforcing rules.
If you don't want to do racewalking competitions, you can enter most any 5K or 10K or longer road race and racewalk it. You will pass most of the power walkers and some of the people who are running and walking for exercise.
If there is a racewalking division, don't check that off unless you will use racewalking technique throughout. And if there is a walking division with prizes, don't enter that if you are going to run any part of the race.
Racewalking technique will let you go faster without running, if you can't walk fast enough for a good walking aerobic workout at your fitness level.
Racewalking has been an Olympic sport for 100 years. It is very technique-dependent and you can keep improving for a long time, as your walking exercise technique improves. Runners who have injured knees or feet may turn to racewalking for a similar workout without the impact, but there's no reason you can't go straight to racewalking, as some people just find it more enjoyable and a greater challenge than fitness walking. Racewalkers are not immune from overuse injuries, but the injury rate is lower than with running.
All that strolling through the lines at Disneyland can actually help your health. Do research before making reservations to be sure there are walking opportunities near your hotel. Being active and keeping up your fitness walking improves your vacation. Plus, long walks are romantic!
You may want to try Nordic walking--fitness walking with poles--for a change of pace and to increase the intensity of your walking exercise workout. Nordic walking can also help you keep your balance. Cross country skiers use this technique during the summer. Special rubber tipped walking poles are available.
Don't forget to hike with poles when you're walking to the North Pole (or you could take the Polar Express.) Although the use of hiking poles in uphill backpacking does not change the amount of energy expended during walking exercise, many people say they make the hike seem easier.
If injuries have cut short your running career, you still may be able to racewalk. Or, if you don't like running but want more challenge than power walking, you can try racewalking too. Racewalking, an Olympic sport, will give you a great running/fitness walking workout and allow you to compete without the jarring of running. You need to walk with a straight knee on your forward leg and a foot always on the ground, so find a coach to teach you the technique.