Walking & Running for Exercise

Walking & Running for Exercise
When it comes to exercise programs, nothing is easier than walking and running. In addition to being a great way to stay in shape and lose weight, walking and running are a wonderful way to meet new friends and see sights you'd miss driving in a car or even riding your bike. But before you begin your walking program, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Getting Started

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pair of walking or running shoes Loose-fitting exercise clothing Digital watch (optional) Exercise log
  • Pair of walking or running shoes
  • Loose-fitting exercise clothing
  • Digital watch (optional)
  • Exercise log
Step 1
Before you begin, check with your family physician for permission to begin walking or running. If you're over 40 and haven't had a physical exam recently, make an appointment. Be sure that you get a resting EKG and a complete blood chemistry test.
Step 2
There are two ways to begin walking and running -- for time or for distance. One of the best ways to get started is to time your walks using a simple digital wristwatch. Start your watch's stopwatch at the beginning of your walk. Go out at a moderate pace for 15 minutes. You can choose an "out and back" route or circle back to your starting point. Record the amount of time you walked in a notebook or exercise log.
Step 3
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should exercise for at least 20 minutes most days of the week to maintain health and fitness. If you're trying to lose weight, you may want to exercise longer.
Step 4
To get the most benefit from your walking or running program, you should exercise within your target heart rate range. A simple target heart rate calculator can be found at http://www.stevenscreek.com/goodies/hr.shtml.
Step 5
Be sure to drink plenty of water during your walk or run. Nutritionists recommend drinking at least one liter of water every hour that you're exercising.
Step 6
At the end of your walk or run, take your recovery heart rate and record it in your exercise log. As you become fitter, you should notice that your heart rate drops faster after you conclude your exercise.

The Right Equipment

Step 1
One of the great things about walking and running for fitness is that it requires very little in the way of special equipment. It does, however, require good quality walking or running shoes. Avoid using the same shoes you use for playing tennis or hiking. They typically lack adequate cushioning for your feet. If you're buying new shoes, try them on in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Ill-fitting shoes can rapidly cause painful blisters.
Step 2
In addition to choosing good quality shoes, buy sport socks that are made for walking and running, free of any irritating seams. Good choices include socks made with wool/polypropylene blends that wick moisture away from the feet.
Step 3
Buy exercise clothing designed for running and walking. Most will be made from fabrics that "breathe" and allow for perspiration evaporation and will be free of irritating seams and zippers. Men want to avoid wearing boxer-type underwear that lack adequate support. Women should wear good quality sports bras that offer firm support during activity. Light colors are better than dark -- they reflect the rays of the sun.
Step 4
If you plan to be walking or running in the sun, be sure to wear a lightweight hat to protect your head from the sun's heat.

Stepping Up to More Challenges

Step 1
After you've established a base period of 20 minutes or more of continuous exercise, begin extending the time by five to ten minutes every two weeks. Another way to get more value from your exercise is to gradually increase your exercise intensity. Try alternating higher intensity intervals for several minutes, followed by your standard walking or running pace. Repeat the intervals several times.
Step 2
If you typically walk or run for time instead of distance, try measuring a one- to two-mile course using your car's odometer. The next time you go out for a run, note how long it takes you to complete the distance. For an additional challenge, try completing the same course in less time. Jot down notes in your exercise log.
Step 3
One great way to stay motivated is to sign up for a local race. There are dozens of opportunities to take part in organized fun runs and races by searching the Internet for "fun runs." One very popular fun run is the "Race for the Cure," sponsored by the Susan B. Komen Foundation, benefiting survivors of breast cancer. You can get more information about their events at http://ww5.komen.org.

Tips & Warnings

 
Get a complete physical examination before beginning any exercise program. Start out slowly and progress moderately. Try to recruit friends to exercise with you. Don't stop walking when you travel -- it's a great way to see the sights.
 
Get a complete physical examination before beginning any exercise program.
 
Start out slowly and progress moderately.
 
Try to recruit friends to exercise with you.
 
Don't stop walking when you travel -- it's a great way to see the sights.
 
Don't skimp on good quality exercise shoes and clothing. Try not to let your daily activities get in the way of your fitness program.
 
Don't skimp on good quality exercise shoes and clothing.
 
Try not to let your daily activities get in the way of your fitness program.

Article Written By Allen Smith

Allen Smith is an award-winning freelance writer living in Vail, Colo. He writes about health, fitness and outdoor sports. Smith has a master's degree in exercise physiology and an exercise specialist certification with the American College of Sports Medicine at San Diego State University.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.