Walking: A Real Fat-Burner

by Greg Landry, M.S.

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A good walking program is the basis for successful weight loss for many people - and it can be for you too. Here are a few steps you can take (no pun intended) to develop your own fat-burning walking program:

  1. Find ways to make your walking enjoyable, by listening to music, books on tape, or teaching tapes. Or, some people prefer to just enjoy nature and life around them, and the time to think, pray, or just let their mind wander. The more you enjoy your walks, the more likely you are to walk consistently.

  2. Make it a daily habit - just like brushing your teeth. Walking daily makes you a much better "fat-burner" than if you are walking two to three days a week. And, most people that make the switch will tell you that it's easier to walk every day. You don't have to think about whether it's a walk day or not and get geared up for it - you just do it every day and your body gets used to it. It soon becomes a normal part of your day and you begin to look forward to it.

  3. Incorporate "intervals" into three or four of your walks each week. Intervals are brief periods (about one minute) of more intense exercise mixed into your walking sessions. For example, you would do a one minute interval of faster walking about every five minutes throughout your exercise session.

  4. Here's how it will look; you'll start with your normal three to five minute warm-up and then five minutes into your walk you do your first interval, one minute of faster walking (or perhaps jogging). At the end of that minute you should be "winded" and ready to slow down. You'll slow down to your normal walking speed for the next four minutes and then your fifth minute is another one minute interval. This pattern continues throughout your exercise session.

    Intervals increase your aerobic fitness level by "pushing the envelope." While doing your interval you cross the anaerobic threshold into anaerobic metabolism, forcing your body to become conditioned to more intense exercise and making it a better fat burner. Intervals increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR), causing you to burn more calories 24 hours-a-day, and intervals can make your exercise less monotonous and help the time pass more quickly.

  5. Train for a 5K or 10K walk in your area. Training for an event like this is very motivating and gives you a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

  6. If you're not weight training, walk with light (one to two pound) hand weights two to three days per week. Swing your arms and also use a variety of arm movements while walking to tone your upper body muscles and further increase your basal metabolic rate.

  7. If at all possible, do your walking first thing in the morning. Over 90% of people who walk consistently, walk first thing in the morning. If you want to walk consistently, odds are in your favor if you hop to it early.

  8. If you're really in a hurry to get the fat-burning machine cranked-up, add a short, leisurely walk to your regimen a few evenings each week. Many people like to take a conversational walk with a spouse, friend, or child after dinner.

  9. Look for situations throughout your day when you can do a little more walking. Welcome the opportunity to walk a little extra during your daily activities. For example, when safe to do so, park way out in the parking lot of Wal-Mart or your grocery store and hike to the store.

  10. Make one day a week your "easy day." Make this a very leisurely walk. Enjoy the sights and sounds around you and appreciate how good your walks are starting to feel as you lose weight and tone your muscles.

  11. Keep a record of your walking. There's something very motivating about seeing your walking accomplishments and paper. Record the date and time-of-day of your walk, and the distance and/or time you walked. Keep a running total of the miles or minutes you've walked. Also, record your thoughts or feelings for that particular walk.

By taking these steps you're making this time each day a special time to take care of yourself. Make that a priority in your life and don't let anyone or anything keep you from that time. Walking every day will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life, including your weight and fitness level!

Check out Author and exercise physiologist, Greg Landry, M.S., website at www.Landry.com.

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