The Best Walking Shoes

The best walking shoes for you are likely not the best shoes for someone else.

Because your feet are unique to you, selecting a pair of walking shoes has to be based on what fits your feet the best and not based on looks, reviews or price. The most expensive shoe might not be your best choice.

If you are unsure of what to look for in a good pair of walking shoes, seek advice from a knowledgeable shoe representative in a sports store. They tend to have more experience fitting athletes with the proper footwear.

Features for Good Fitting Walking Shoes

When selecting shoes, look for a pair that gives you right amount of support, flexibility and cushioning.

  • Support – A shoe right for your foot should fit your foot snugly, but not so tight that it compresses your foot. If your shoe fits too loosely, it can cause blisters and even damage your toenails, if they jam against the front of the shoe. Remember your feet swell during exercising, so you may need a size bigger than what you wear in other shoes.
  • Flexibility – Walking shoes that fit right should bend where your foot naturally bends. If the sole is too stiff, you can end up with foot pain.
  • Cushioning – Even though walking is a low impact sport, you want cushioning in the sole. It cushions your heel when it strikes the ground and improves the fit of the shoe.

Always try on shoes before buying. If you plan on buying shoes online, go to a shoe store first and try on the same pair you plan on buying to ensure a good fit.

Also, if you have stride problems, such as overpronation (where your foot rolls too far inward with each step) or fallen arches, make sure your shoe or insole compensates for it. Some manufacturers use motion control technology that compensates for overpronation. In some cases it may be necessary to get a custom pair of orthotics made for your shoes.

Determine Your Foot Wear Pattern on Your Walking Shoes

When shopping for new shoes, bring an old pair of walking shoes with you. The wear pattern on the sole will help the salesman recommend new pairs of shoes that will complement your feet and even improve your walking.

Replacing Your Walking Shoes

If you walk a lot, plan on replacing your shoes at least once or twice a year. When you walk, the outside portion of your heel hits the ground first, as your step progresses, the weight on your foot shifts forward and in towards your arch, As your step finishes, the weight shifts forward to the ball of your foot and you push off for your next step with your toes.

The continuous movement of your feet eventually breaks down the cushioning and arch support on the inside of your shoes. If you start to have sore feet, check your walking shoes as it may be time to replace them.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

Walking or Running

What is better walking or running for fitness?

Should You Choose Walking versus Running for Your Overall Health Benefits?

Both aerobic activities are simple to perform and promote weight loss. And both walking and running help regulate a healthy sleep rhythm, elevate your energy levels while awake, and even allow you to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Running and walking can also be social exercises that you enjoy with friends or family members, and you can take a jog or a hike just about any time of the year, depending on where you live.

Walking is Easier on Your Body Than Running

Just remember that if you choose walking over running to improve your overall health, you will need to walk twice as far as you run to gain the same weight-loss benefits. Running is much more rigorous on your body, and burns more calories. But walking is also much easier on your joints since the impact of your foot striking the ground is lessened.

For Beginners Walking is the Best Place to Start

If you are just beginning some type of dedicated physical regimen, walking is definitely recommended, and you can always build up your endurance and physical fitness to include running in the future.

And in some cases, walking can give you many of the same benefits as running, with less downside. For instance, extensive research taken from the Runners and Walkers Health Study shows that both running and walking equally cut down on your risk of contracting age-related cataracts.

That significant body of information, compiled from tens of thousands of runners and walkers, also showed that runners could expect a reduction in the risk of contracting heart disease by about 4.5% by running one hour a day.

Running Beats Walking for Weight Loss

But those who spent that same one hour daily simply walking cut their risk of heart disease by over 9%. Certainly, walking and running both improve your overall health and fitness much more than if you were sedentary instead. So choose whichever exercise best fits your current fitness levels and situation. And for weight loss, running is definitely the better vehicle than walking. That is because of the increased energy expenditure, elevated heart rate and calorie burn.

Before Walking or Running for Exercise – Check With Doctor First

You should always consult a doctor before adding any type of exercise to your daily routine. But both walking and running are excellent ways to get you up and active, and are low-cost activities which you can enjoy even if you only have a limited amount of time on your hands.

There is no argument that running or walking is much healthier than not doing either, so put one foot in front of the other today and begin to enjoy the heart and total body benefits are that these simple but healthy exercises can provide.

Avoiding Bulky Legs While On a Walking Fitness Program

Because muscles have two different types of fiber, some walking fitness programs target one type of fiber better than the other. To avoid bulking up your legs, you want to follow a walking fitness program that targets slow twitch fibers as they do not grow significantly from their current size.

If you choose a program that targets the fast twitch fibers, you stand more of a chance at building up leg muscle than you may not want as those fibers do have the capability to grow in size.

Follow These Five Steps to Keep From Building Up Bulky Legs:

  • When planning your walking course, avoid hills, inclines or stairs. Moving your body vertically emphasizes building up the glutes, hamstrings and calves, which can give you a bulky appearance. Staying on flat land works all of your lower body muscle groups equally.
  • Maintain a proper posture by engaging your abdominal muscles and keeping your head and neck centered over your spine. This keeps your weight evenly balanced vertically across your muscles supporting it, thus not working one group more than others.
  • Don’t walk with added weight. While ankle and wrist weight do increase the number of calories you burn while walking, the additional weight on your ankles can make your large lower body muscle groups work harder thus developing them more.
  • The same advice applies to other things you may carry with you. What you carry in your backpack can add additional weight, so think about what you really need and leave the rest at home.
  • How you walk can make a difference. In a proper walk, your foot should land on the outside of your heel. As your step progresses forward, your weight should shift forward and inward to your arch. At the end of your step, your weight should shift to the ball of your foot and then to your toes where you push off for the next step. If you land on the middle part of your foot, you can strengthen and ultimately enlarge your calf muscles.

For Walking or Running Choose Good Shoes

Of course, having a good pair of walking shoes that fit well and support your arch will make walking properly much easier.

By selecting a walking fitness course that works slow twitch leg muscle fibers and following the rest of the above steps, you can safely burn calories and lose weight without having to worry about bulking up your leg muscles. As you lose weight, your toned and well defined leg muscles will begin to show themselves.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How Walking More Helps Prevent Diabetes

Studies show how walking can help control diabetes.

The largest non-profit entity providing diabetes research in the United States is the American Diabetes Association. So when such an organization annually promotes a Walk To Stop Diabetes, that should show you just how powerful the simple act of walking is in combating this dangerous and deadly disease.

It is also known that walking helps improve overall fitness levels, while supercharging your metabolism and allowing you to burn more fat and calories, which helps you lose weight.

Walking More Can Also Help Control Diabetes

If you already have diabetes, walking more can help control the affliction and avoid many of its dire consequences. And if you are at risk for diabetes, simply walking more each and every day could keep you from contracting this potentially deadly disease altogether.

This is because the act of walking not only helps you shed pounds, but it also substantially increases the amount of insulin receptors which are located on your cells. This allows your insulin to help blood sugar move into the cell directly, where it needs to go for proper functioning.

When blood sugar gets stuck in your bloodstream, it runs the risk of becoming attached to blood vessel walls, and possibly decreasing or even totally stopping blood flow in some areas of your body. Several studies have shown that for people with diabetes who take insulin, a regular regimen of walking can even help reduce the amount of medication that is required.

Walking More Helps Oxygenate Your Whole Body

Walking helps your heart beat faster to move blood throughout your body, and this helps oxygenate your muscles, which aids in burning blood sugar as well.

And as a wonderful side effect, increasing the amount of time you spend walking can also positively affect your gray matter. As a brain-sharpening and diabetes-defeating activity, the act of walking efficiently combats slowed brain activity which is often impaired in older diabetes sufferers.

Walking More Can Help You Think Clearer

Scientists have noticed that in many cases with older diabetes patients, the ability to think clearly is drastically reduced. But in at least one study, simple physical activity such as walking actually stimulated the very type of brainwave activity which diabetes had impaired.

Gerald Bernstein is an MD and endocrinologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, and he agrees with multiple findings that average to brisk sessions of walking just thirty minutes a mere three times a week is enough to significantly impact your fitness levels in a positive manner.

This means if you currently have diabetes, are at risk for diabetes, or are simply fit and healthy and want to remain that way. Put the positive power of diabetes prevention to work in your life by walking more, and immediately enjoy the wonderful health-enhancing benefits of this simple activity.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How to Make Walking A Habit

Make walking a habit because the alternative is not pretty.

If you are wondering how to make walking a habit, you probably understand the many health benefits the simple exercise can provide. From lowering cholesterol to improving your heart health, walking delivers a significant overall health boost while shedding unwanted pounds and fat. And if you have tried but failed in the past to add a dedicated walking routine to your life, you can successfully make walking a habit simply by following the tips and tricks listed below.

1 – Make a plan, and write it down. Then post your walking goals in a place where you will constantly see them on a daily basis. This helps to habitually remind yourself of this new activity which you are trying to implement, meaning that you will have a much better chance in sticking to your exercise plan.

2 – Start slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you are not going from the couch to the Boston Marathon in a week. Set realistic and sensible daily and weekly goals for yourself, and the positive feelings you get from reaching them will make your walking habit much easier to achieve.

3 – Envision the perfect end result. If you are adding walking to your life to help you lose weight, then visualize your new body minus the 10 or 20 pounds which will disappear after you have successfully created a walking habit in your life.

4 – Celebrate small victories. The human brain feeds off of positive reinforcements. If you walk for 30 minutes your first day, congratulate yourself out loud. Every small win that is celebrated and recognized creates the desire for more positive self encouragement, which not only makes walking a habit, but also something you look forward to and cannot wait to enjoy again.

5 – Be very specific, and consistent. Instead of a vague goal like, “I will walk 5 miles a week,” say, “I will wake up one hour earlier Monday through Friday and walk 1 mile each morning before work.” Habits are much easier to develop when your mind and body understand that a specific activity is going to take place on a consistent basis, at the same time each day.

These simple but easy to implement tips will help you make walking a habit in your life. And you will instantly begin to see the positive mental and physical benefits that a consistent walking plan can deliver, as conscious effort gives way to unconscious habit.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How Walking Reduces Risk of Heart Attack

When you eat healthy walking can have a big impact on reducing heart attack risks.

In a recent report based on a study done at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, doctors found that women who walked at a brisk pace three or four hours per week reduced their risk of a heart attack by 30 to 40 percent; those who walked at least five hours per week reduced their risk by 50%.

They went on to state that one-third of coronary events in middle-aged women are due to physical inactivity. Walking can reduce your risk of a heart attack by…

1) Lowering Your Blood Pressure

One of the causes of a heart attack can be high blood pressure – known as hypertension. This “silent killer” causes your heart to work extra hard to pump blood throughout your body. Walking, along with eating properly, losing weight, stopping smoking and restricting your salt intake, has shown to decrease high blood pressure and therefore decrease your risk of a heart attack.

2) Reducing Stress

Walking reduces the amount of stress hormones released in our body. An overabundance of stress hormones elevates your blood pressure. However, by exercising, your mind focuses less on what is causing you stress and more on the repetitiveness of doing the exercise. With less stress hormones in your system, your blood pressure lowers itself.

3) Reducing Cholesterol

The higher your cholesterol level – a ratio of HDL, LDL and triglycerides (another fat in your bloodstream) – the greater chance you’ll have a heart attack. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that when found in excess, can build-up on the walls of your arteries and cause, at the very least a narrowing, or worse a blockage.

With a narrowing, your heart will not get as much oxygen as it needs and you will get chest pains. If one of your arteries becomes blocked, you suffer a heart attack. By walking, you can naturally raise your good HDL and reduce your bad LDL cholesterol thus lowering your overall cholesterol level.

4) Stabilizing Your Blood Sugar Level

When you eat foods high in sugar, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream to break down the sugar. But in many people, the insulin response is too great, thus processing too much sugar. Your body responds in the form of a craving for sugar so you eat something sweet … and the yo-yo cycle continues.

Why this is bad is that over time, your body becomes what is known as insulin resistant. In other words it takes more insulin than your body is capable of creating to break down sugar. The result – Type 2 diabetes and generally an associated weight gain.

As your body becomes insulin resistant, a thickening of your arteries starts to happen with symptoms and results similar to high cholesterol. Walking takes energy and that energy comes from your blood sugar. With less excessive blood sugar to control, insulin can do its work effectively thus preventing insulin resistance.

A Quick Note on Eating Properly

All the walking in the world will not reduce your risk of a heart attack unless you also eat properly. Many of the above symptoms are linked to not eating right. By eating foods low in salt, sugar and saturated fat, along with regular walking, you can significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

Make Time for Walking More

In these days of modern living, we all need to be walking more.

We are all busy nowadays, so how does one find the time to do a little walking every day? It really isn’t that hard. For most people, it requires committing a little more time here and there out of each day.

Many people that should be exercising don’t because they believe they have to do it in one chunk of time; that is not true. While we should each get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, it can be done in small chunks of time throughout the day and still reap the same benefit.

But keeping track of small chunks of time spent each day walking can be trying and most people will soon give up. Instead, let technology keep track of it for you in the form of steps walked.

Wear a pedometer or accelerometer and strive to walk 10,000 steps each day. Before you dismiss that goal as impossible, try it. You are already racking up more steps walking each day than you realize. By creatively adding in some of these opportunities to your workday, you’ll soon reach your daily goal.

Workday Walking Opportunities

There are many ways you can get in some extra steps while going to or from work, or while at work:

  • Instead of finding a parking spot close to your workplace, park at the far end of the lot and walk in the rest of the way. It only takes a few extra minutes each way and the steps adds to your daily goal.
  • If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two before the closest stop to your work and walk the rest of the way.
  • Once you are at your workplace, take the stairs instead of the elevator to your office or at least for a few floors.
  • As a healthy alternative to emailing a coworker in your same building, get out of your chair and walk over to their desk.
  • If you have to go to a different floor for lunch, walk there and back.
  • Instead of eating a big lunch in the cafeteria, bring a healthy lunch to work. Strap on your walking shoes and go outside for a walk. Just allow yourself enough time to get back, cool down and eat.

By incorporating a few of these tips into your workday, you will most likely be at goal and you added very little extra time to your workday. As a final note, keep track of the number of steps walked each day.

On days when you don’t meet goal, figure out what you can change so that the next time you reach your daily goal. It could be walking further, faster or seeking out a new step opportunity.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Walk for Fitness?

From a calories-burned point of view, there isn’t one time of day better than the other to walk. However, there are more considerations than burning calories that may influence when you walk; some bodily functions, and especially the habit of walking, respond better based on the time of day you walk.

The time of day for walks are broken down into four periods throughout the day:

  • Morning
  • Noon
  • Afternoon
  • Evening

Walking in the Morning

A morning walk has several advantages, such as sharpening your mental acuity and revving up your metabolism that will carry through for the rest of the day. So while you don’t burn any more calories by exercising in the morning, you will end up burning more throughout the day by going for morning walks.

Walking Around the Noon Hour

Usually done at work, exercising during your lunch break before eating the healthy lunch you brought from home, reduces stress, curbs hunger and improves blood flow so you can maintain your sharpness throughout the afternoon.

Walking in the Afternoon

Studies have shown that exercising between 3 pm and 7 pm is the best time to build endurance and muscle. Increasing your endurance not only allows you to walk farther but faster before you’ll get tired. Building muscle gives your body better definition, tones the muscles you already have along with increasing their size. Larger muscles mean more calories burned per day, but don’t worry, you won’t build enough to give you that bulked look.

Taking a Walk in the Evening

Exercising in the evening is a good way to reduce stress from a day of working. This time of day can be easier for some people as their muscles are already warm and flexible from the day’s activities. For many people, this perceived reduction of effort required makes exercising more enjoyable than during other times of day.

Some people end up not exercising because they can’t find a 30-minute block of time each day to devote to it. However walking time is cumulative – for example, you get the same benefits from walking 10 minutes three times per day as you do once for 30 minutes. So if “chunking” works better for you, then walk according to that plan.

Experts agree that it isn’t the time of day you exercise that is important, but to do it when it best fits into your schedule. As with all exercising, consistency counts, so if you can find a time of day when you can routinely walk, you’ll start to see results sooner and derive more benefits from walking.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How to Make Walking More Fun

If you think about it, there are lots of ways to make walking more fun.

You know you should walk more, but sometimes it seems like such a chore. Are you trying to discover how to make walking more fun, so that you’ll guarantee you continue to practice this healthy and simple exercise? There are tons of ways to creatively make walking more fun and enjoyable, and when you practice the fun walking tips below, you will find yourself looking forward to your regular hikes.

Get a Dog to Make Walking More Fun

Get a dog. Animal shelters are full of friendly canines that are looking for a good home. In this way you may actually be saving a life while also providing yourself with a walking companion which can increase your sense of security as well. And since dogs require frequent walking, this helps you stick to a regular routine.

Enlist a Friend to Do Daily Walks With

Involve a friend. Many health experts say that you reach your fitness goals much more quickly when you get a friend involved. Since most people make friends with others who are a lot like themselves, chances are you know someone who would also like to add a walking regimen to their life. Get a friend, neighbor or family member involved in your exercise plan, and you will find yourself looking forward to your daily walks.

Listen to Podcasts or Your Favorite Music to Make Walking More Fun

Listen to your favorite podcast. Grab your earbuds and your MP3 player or smartphone, and use your walking time to catch up on your favorite podcasts. Feeding your mind while you lose weight and get in shape by walking is a great strategy to improve your overall health as you simultaneously stimulate your brain.

Start a Reward System to Make Walking More Fun

Pay yourself. Give yourself a set financial rate for walking. Perhaps you will reward yourself with $5 for every mile that you walk, or $1 for every 10 minutes. Physically pay yourself at the end of each walking session, and at the end of each month, use your walking “paycheck” to buy yourself a fun and rewarding gift.

Join a Group of Other Walkers or Hikers

Join a group. There are multiple hiking and walking groups in virtually every major city around the world. And if you do not have a group or organization dedicated to regular walking in your area, why not start one? This is a great way to socialize and have fun while positively impacting your overall fitness level.

Change Your Route to Make Walking More Fun

Discover new surroundings. Walking the same route around your neighborhood can quickly become boring. Get out and broaden your horizons by discovering a park beach, path or forest which is new to you. You can even substantially add to your walking enjoyment by simply choosing a new neighborhood or subdivision for your daily walk, and you may even meet and make new friends.

Get Your Family Involved to Make Walking More Fun

Family fitness is a win-win situation, but it may not be easy at first to get everyone to see the benefits of a family walking plan. Once each member of the family starts to look better and feel healthier, they will accept walking as a good thing, but getting to that point can be challenging. Engage your whole family with these tips:

  • Instead of just one person always walking the dog, make it a family affair and part of your daily family walking fitness plan.
  • Plan time in each day when the whole family goes for a walk. If time is not planned and coveted, it is easy for something else to take over that time slot.
  • Make a friendly competition out of walking. Before starting your walking family fitness plan, record everyone’s weight. Once a week, have everyone weigh again and note the progress made. Once your kids start to see their weight drop, they will see the value of exercising.
  • When going to the mall, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk in the rest of the way. Before shopping, take a few walking laps around the inside of the mall. Not only will your whole family get exercise going to and from the car, but they will also get exercise while walking in the mall.
  • If your kids like playing in the park, walk there (if fit is close enough) instead of driving.
  • On the weekends, plan a family hike. Educate yourself ahead of time so you can talk about what they are seeing on the hike. Not only will they get exercise, but they can learn something along the way.

Walking as a family does another thing – it makes each member accountable to the rest of the family. Nobody wants to be the one to let down the rest of the family, so everyone walks to avoid the disappointment.

Eat Healthy Because Making Walking More Fun is Only Half the Story

As good as walking is as a family fitness plan, it is only half the story; the other half is learning to eat healthy. Focus on your family eating healthy foods rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. As a point of interest, talk about how the vegetable of the night is good for them. One passive education tactic that works is to post an article you read that day on the refrigerator door that expounds on some benefits of walking, being fit or healthy eating.

A family walking fitness plan is not only a great way for the whole family to get some exercise, but what better way is there to spend some quality family time together. So have the family members get off the couch, put down the game controllers and get out and walk! The whole family together will make walking more fun.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How to Walk Off Weight

Walk off weight by using these tips.

Walking is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. But there are a couple of things you can do to increase the number of calories burned and to maximize your workout. Three things affect the number of calories burned when you’re looking to walk off weight.

1) Speed is Important When You Walk Off Weight

Starting out, you may be able to only walk at a pace of 3 mph giving you a pace of 20-minute miles. However by working up to a walking speed of 4.5 mph, you end up with 13-minute miles. The difference in the number of calories burned is 20 calories per mile. On a one hour walk, that is an additional 92 calories burned.

2) Distance is Needed to Walk Off Weight

It stands to reason that if you are walking faster for the same amount of time, that you will cover more distance. However if you are just starting out, work on distance before speed. The advantage of increasing your distance first is that you build endurance, i.e. you are able to sustain walking at the same pace over a longer period of time. Once you have built endurance, you can work on increasing your speed.

3) Heavier Weight Matters When You Walk Off Weight

A 120 pound person burns about 65 calories per mile walking at 3 mph on a flat surface. As a comparison, a 180 pound person walking the same distance and at the same pace burns about 95 calories. Numerically speaking, the above facts would lead you to believe that as you lose weight, you would most likely will have to increase your energy expenditure to keep burning the same number of calories. However, what can happen is that as you become fit, your basal metabolic rate increases meaning you naturally burn more calories than you did before.

Healthy Eating When you Walk Off Weight

The other half of walking off weight is to eat healthy. You can’t expect to lose weight by walking and then coming home and gorging yourself with food that is bad for you. Keep in mind that the candy bar you ate takes three to five miles of walking to burn it off! When you’re trying to walk off weight, this can be a huge handicap so be aware of this destructive habit.

A healthy diet should consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, foods high in Omega 3 fats (such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and avocados) and lean meats.

Generally speaking a woman should eat around 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day; a man 1,500 to 1,600 per day. This should put you on a weight loss of one pound per week. If you lose more than one pound adjust your calorie intake accordingly as you may not be eating enough calories.

When you want to walk off weight and team up walking on a consistent basis along with healthy eating, you’ll be well on your way to losing weight the healthy way. Soon you’ll be enjoying life as a lighter and healthier you.

How Many Calories Do You Burn as You Walk Off Weight?

The number of calories while walking varies from person to person. You may walk the same route at the same speed with a friend who weighs about the same and is of similar age, and one of you will burn more calories than the other. Why is that?

The Other Variable as You Walk Off Weight

Besides weight, age speed and distance, the other variable is fitness level. If one of you is more fit than the other, the one that is most fit will have a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), meaning that person naturally burns more calories at rest. While you can’t directly control your BMR, you can increase it by improving your fitness level; this is where walking comes in.

Know Your BMR

Regardless if you are walking to lose weight or improve fitness, you have to know your BMR as a starting point. An online search for “Basal Metabolic Rate Calculator” brings up a host of options. Pick one and enter your information – height, weight and age (and sedentary, if it asks for fitness level). The results are the number of calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight at your current fitness level.

For example, a female weighing 120 pounds, 30 years old and 5 foot 4 inches tall needs to eat 1700 calories per day to maintain her current weight. To lose a pound of weight per week, she has to burn 2400 calories per day.

Calories Burned as You Walk Off Weight

So how far and fast does she have to walk to burn the additional 500 calories per day? On average, our example walking 3 mph for an hour burns 200 calories. And because speed is a factor, it makes sense that if she walked at a faster rate, she would have covered a greater distance over the same amount of time and would have burned even more calories. Having walked at 3.5 mph, would have burned an additional 50 calories.

Now before you think you are going to have to walk 2.5 hours per day, don’t forget that household chores also burn calories, so they factor into your 500 calories per day burned. For example, 30 minutes each of daily activities, such as showering, making beds, doing dishes and laundry, burn over 400 calories. Add in your hour walk and you are at 600 calories burned for the day.

Sometimes all it takes is to add in an hour of brisk walking per day – walking with a purpose – to get the extra calorie burn you need to lose weight. As you become more fit, and your basal metabolic rate increases, so will the number of calories burned at the same activity level. So strap on your walking shoes and get your “walk off weight” routine started!

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

Walk to Burn Fat

Wake up your muscles a go for a walk to burn fat.

It makes sense that to burn fat and ultimately lose weight, you have to get your body into the fat-burning mode. But just exactly how do you tell your body to burn stored fat instead of pulling from available sugars? By warming up first!

Warm Up Before You Walk to Burn Fat

To wake up your muscles and let them know you are in this for the long haul, walk at a slower pace than normal for five to 10 minutes.

Once you are warmed-up, increase your speed to at least a brisk or moderate pace; your daily goal should be to walk at this pace for at least 30 minutes.

What Does a Brisk Pace Feel Like?

While the speed you walk depends on your fitness level, the way it “feels” to you will be the same. Your breathing rate should increase, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation with your walking partner. Your heart rate should measure from 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate, 220 minus your age. On a less technical side, it should feel like you are rushing to get to get to an important appointment because you are running late – you know, that quickened pace.

Increasing the Number of Calories Burned

Let’s face it, you are only going to be able to burn a certain number of calories by walking the same distance at the same pace. As your body gets more fit, it will adapt by becoming more efficient. So to increase the number of calories burned, it makes sense that you either have to walk farther or faster (or both). But wait, there is a third option – weights.

By wearing wrist or ankle weights, you increase the amount of work exerted even though you are not walking any further or faster. Your heart beats a little faster- you perspire a little more; your body is working a little harder.

While wearing weights, move your arms in a back and forth pumping motion to burn even more calories, build muscle and lose more weight.

Walking builds muscle. By working your large lower body muscle groups, they become more toned, better defined and stronger. Now your “new” muscles burn more calories (even at rest) than your old ones did because it takes more energy to fuel them than it did before.

By wearing wrist weights, you are also improving your arm and shoulder muscles, making them burn more calories too. All-in-all, it adds up; the “new you” is now a fat burning machine, burning more calories than before. As you burn the calories you’ll burn fat but you have to get started and the best time is now.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How Fast Should You Walk for Fitness?

Walk for fitness and follow these simple rules.

Most experts agree to reap the health benefits from walking, you have to walk at least at a brisk pace. But what is considered “brisk”?

Because a brisk pace depends on the amount of exertion put forth while walking, it depends on your fitness level. What may be brisk for someone just starting out walking, will not be the same as for someone that has been doing it for a long time.

Regardless if you are new to the sport or not, you have to use some method of “measuring” your walking to know if you are making progress or not. Walking is measured in two ways – either by intensity or pace.

Intensity When Walking

Using this method, your intensity should be moderate, meaning you should get your heart rate up to 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate (220 – age). Once you have your target heart rate figure, then monitor your pulse (count the number of beats during a 10 second period and multiply by 6) and adjust your pace as necessary to keep it within your range. Another way to roughly calculate if you are within your range or not is you should be able to speak in full sentences while walking, but unable to sing a song.

Pace Yourself When You Walk

This method uses a calculation of distance covered over a span of time. A brisk pace for people new to walking starts at about three miles per hour, breaking down to 20 minutes per mile or about 12 minutes per kilometer. As your fitness level increases, you can quicken your pace to four miles per hour – 15 minutes per mile or 9 minutes and 15 seconds per kilometer.

Keeping Track of Progress

While you can measure your pace with just a wristwatch, by keeping track of how long it takes you to make it around a measured course, there are an array of tools to help you monitor your progress. From simple online calculators, to electronic devices, to smartphone applications, there is something for everyone to measure time and distance, pace or the intensity level of your walking.

When coupled with a healthy diet, walking may be the perfect exercise for weight loss. All that is required for equipment is good pair of walking shoes; everything else is nice to have, but optional.

And walking can be incorporated into your normal daily routine. Park at the end of the parking lot and walk the rest of the way to work, or if you take public transportation to and from work, get off a stop or two further away and walk to work.

If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.