A huge variety of fitness activities provide cardiovascular benefits. If you’re breathing hard and can feel your heart beating, you’re doing cardio. Because walking is fun, easy, and requires little time and no financial investment, it’s our top choice for cardiovascular activity.
Walking uses your body’s largest muscle group, your legs. Because it’s rhythmic (you repeat the same basic movements), and it’s aerobic (you take in and use more oxygen than usual), when walking is sustained for more than several minutes at a time it provides fantastic cardiovascular benefits – including weight loss – and can be quickly and easily implemented into your daily routine.
Walking at a moderate pace for about 30-60 minutes burns stored fat, and can build muscle to help speed up your metabolism, burning fat even while you sleep! So, let’s start moving…
First, wake up your muscles by walking at a warm-up pace for five minutes, signaling to your muscles that they can’t just sit back and burn up the available sugars, they need to tap into your fat reserves. This means not starting your daily walk at a high speed. On the contrary, a low-intensity or low-speed start signals your muscles that you are engaging in a long-term activity, prompting the burning of stored fat, and not just sugar burning.
After five minutes, pick up the pace. The speed to walk at for optimal fat burning is a “determined” pace, at which rate you should be breathing noticeably harder, but still able to carry on a conversation in full sentences. By doing this, you raise your heart rate to about 70% of your maximum heart rate, which acts as a
catalyst for burning stored fat.
catalyst for burning stored fat.
Try walking as though you’re 15 minutes late for an important appointment. Now, start with walking at this pace for 30 minutes each day. For optimal weight loss, walk at least 5 days of the week, with weekly time spent walking eventually reaching 5 or more hours each week.
Use the following “cheat sheet” to help implement a quick and easy walking program into your daily routine:
o Start with a few gentle stretches
o Begin walking at an easy pace for five minutes
o Walk 30-60 minutes at about 70% of your maximum heart rate
o Cool down at a slower pace for 5 minutes
o Finish with a few gentle stretches
o For longer walks, walk 60 minutes at your target heart rate, and slow down a bit to complete 90 or 120 minutes at a comfortable pace
Walking an hour a day is also associated with drastically decreasing your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and stroke. Find time to work one-hour walks into your life. It’s well worth waking up an hour early to do so. After all, aren’t you worth it?
When you feel you can comfortably walk an hour on a single day each week, try the following weekly schedule for increased weight loss and added health benefits, alternating the days to fit your personal weekly schedule:
Sunday: Long Day, 90+ minutes
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: Short Day, 30+ minutes
Wednesday: Short Day, 30+ minutes
Thursday: Long Day, 90+ minutes
Friday: Short Day, 30+ minutes
Saturday: Long Day, 60+ minutes
On all days, remember to start with some light stretches. Start walking slow for 5 minutes. Walk at your “determined” pace of 70% of your maximum heart rate for the time specified, concluding with an easy pace for five minutes. Always finish with gentle stretching. Lastly, when walking for weight loss, you should take no more than one to two days off each week.