Walking is a reliable exercise. Not only does it get the blood pumping and increase cardiovascular health, but it can also be a highly effective weight-loss aid. Moderate intensity exercise -- around 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate -- is often referred to as the "fat burning zone" because 85 percent of the calories burned during exercise at this intensity are calories from body fat. Breaking a sweat during a walk is a good indication that you're in "the zone." If you are having trouble breaking a sweat while walking, these techniques might help.
Things You'll Need
- Walking Boots/Sneakers
- Hand-held or wrist/ankle weights
Take a walk outside. Although treadmills in the gym are convenient and easy to use, walking outside is often more challenging because you're walking on uneven ground and your body has to compensate accordingly. If it's chilly outside, your heart rate also increases above normal to help keep you warm, burning additional calories.
Pump your arms. You will often notice fitness walkers pumping their arms in an exaggerated motion. This increases activity and boosts your target heart rate. It also helps keep your muscles and joints loose.
Increase speed. The easiest way to break a sweat walking is to simply walk faster. The average person walks comfortably around three miles per hour. Speeding up to four miles per hour -- a brisk pace -- will challenge your muscles and get your heart pumping even faster.
Climb a hill. Walking up a steep slope or hill puts more demand on your muscles and lungs and will help you break a sweat more easily. When planning your walking route, be sure to incorporate hills and slopes to add an extra challenge.
Carry some weights. A 5-lb. dumbbell in each hand or ankle or wrist weights will force your body to lug a bit more weight on its walk and your heart rate will spike to accommodate that extra effort.
Train using intervals. Try jogging for 30 or 60 seconds to get your heart pumping, then walk for the next five minutes. Like boiling a pot of water and then putting it on to simmer, you will need to exert less effort to maintain the same elevated heart rate once you've reached your fat burning "zone."
Mix things up. One of the biggest risks with moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, like walking, is that your body will get used to it and you heart won't have to work as hard to keep you moving at the same pace. This is why you should constantly challenge your body with unexpected changes in your routine -- using weights one day, hills the next and upping your speed between the two.
Tips & Warnings
- For a scientific approach to weight loss, purchase a heart rate monitor and use it to track your heart rate before, during and after your walk.
- The ideal fat burning "zone" is between 50 percent and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you go higher then that, you will enter the fitness "zone," where your body builds endurance for cardiovascular exercise. While this is of benefit to your body, you will only burn 50 percent of your calories from fat when you're in the fitness "zone," as opposed to 85 percent from fat in the fat burning "zone."
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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