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Walking for Weight Loss

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When you take on a weight loss program that includes walking, it's important to do it right so that you gain the most benefit from it and minimize your chances for injury.

While your family physician can give you the best advice for adding walking to your weight loss routine, here are a few tips to get you started.

First, you want to warm up, getting your body ready to do physical activity. Second, you want to push your body, not beyond its limits, but beyond your comfort zone, in order to have the most productive workout.

And lastly, you want to have a good cool down period so that your body can gradually and sensibly downshift from high intensity activity back to normal.

Warm up

You wouldn't take a frozen turkey, stick it in a roasting pan, and put it in a cold oven, would you? Of course not. Nothing happens in a cold oven. You need to warm up the oven before you can cook anything. The same holds true for walking for weight loss. Start gently. Do some light stretching.

Begin your walk with a comfortable stroll. Get the blood circulating. You want to warm up your muscles and signal to your body that it's going to be called on for increased physical activity.

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Getting yourself all limber before you turn up the physical activity means you'll have less of a chance of experiencing muscle strain or injury during your walk for weight loss.

Work hard

If you're walking for weight loss, be prepared to work hard. You're not out for a Sunday stroll. You want to break a sweat. Get that heart rate up. Lift those legs and swing those arms.

If it helps, wear headphones and bring your MP3 player. Listen to fast-tempo music or tunes with a heavy bass to keep the beat and keep you going.

You need to work hard for weight loss like you'd work hard for anything else. Just putting on your sneakers and looking pretty isn't going to do it. If you hate it, good. That probably means you're doing it right.

Cool down

Just like a warm up, a cool down is an important part of your workout. You've had a good hard walk as part of your weight loss program. Now let your muscles relax and return to a resting state gradually. Let your heart rate return to normal gradually.

Mentally and physically, this cool down period helps your body make the transition from vigorous exercise to a normal working state. Like anything, with practice, you'll get better. If you want to find success with a weight loss program that includes walking, it's critical to remember the three key steps.

You want to warm up, you want to work hard, and then you want to cool down. Going about it the right way will mean you have a better chance of being successful with your weight loss routine and that will help you stick with the program for the long term, ensuring a long future of success.

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