The holidays have come and gone and our thoughts turn to exercise, health and fitness - New Year, New You! If you are new to exercise and fitness, or it's been more than a few years since your last workout, walking is an excellent way to ease into fitness.
Brisk walking is simple, relatively effective for improving cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance, and requires no gym or equipment other than comfortable clothes and a good pair of shoes. Walking daily or at a minimum every other day will help you burn calories (about 100-120 per mile), reduce stress and release positive endorphins in your brain as you reduce your risk for heart disease. Walking is an excellent introduction to cardiovascular fitness and calorie burning.
Why Jog Or Run?
As you continue to train, your speed and fitness level will improve and you will reach a point when you are ready to jog (and then run). This generally happens once you walk at a pace between the 10 minute and 12 minute mile. You will know when the time is right, as you increase your walking speed, your body will naturally break into a nice steady jog, just as a horse transitions from a walk to a trot and then later, a trot to a gallop.
But why jog or run and not continue to walk?
Two reasons, adaptation and improved training effect.
● Adaption - Your body will gradually adapt to meet any demand you place on it. This is most clearly demonstrated by lifting a 10 pound dumbbell, over time that 10 pounds is moved effortlessly as your muscles have adapted to the demand, it’s now time to advance to a 15 pound dumbbell. In your walking, your one hour that once burned about 300 plus calories now burns only about 250 calories as you are more fit and your body has adapted. It is time to increase the intensity, as a bonus, you’ll burn more calories in less time once you progress from walking to jogging and then running.
● Training Effect - The fitness benefits you receive from an exercise or workout is the training effect, in this case stronger heart and lungs, lower stress level and stress hormones and calories burned. By advancing from walking to jogging and then running, you are overcoming adaptation and increasing either frequency, intensity or time to improve the training effect. You’ll experience the same or increased benefits in a shorter (more efficient) time.
How To Advance Safely
There are proven training methods to advance from walk/jog/run safely and effectively. Most beginners programs cover an eight week period and take you from walking to running two miles non-stop. Once you complete the initial training and you can run effortlessly for two miles, you can choose your next training goal ranging from running a 5K or simply running for fun and fitness.
● Train a minimum of 3 days each week with alternating training and rest days.
● Once you start making progress, rest on rest days, if you run too often as a beginner you are headed for overtraining and overuse injuries like shin splints. Stretch on your rest days.
● Each workout will last 30 minutes, your goal will be to cover as much distance as possible in the allotted time. This is best accomplished by walking less and running more.
● Your goal each session should be to run more than you walk, and to run more minutes today than you did last session.
● KISS - Keep it simple. Each session, walk briskly until you naturally break into your jog. Continue to jog or run as long as you can, slowing to a walk only when necessary and once you recover, start running again. Simple, walk only when necessary to recover and run until you have to stop. Make note of the time spent walking versus running each training session.
● Your ultimate goal is to run non-stop for the full 30 minutes. Notice we are focused here on time rather than distance, that way you need only a stopwatch and it’s not necessary to run on a measured track or route.
● Once you are able to run 30 minutes comfortably without stopping, you are now officially a runner who trains seriously and should start looking for local Spring 5K fun runs. Congratulations!
● Use Interval Training. Start off walking to warm up, then move to a jog. When get tired, go back to a brisk walking speed. Once rested, move back up to a jog. Repeat this process until you complete your desired goal. Next session, do the same but limit the walking. Continue this until you are jogging all the time.
*** Warning: Before beginning any exercise program, it is recommended that you get a complete physical and obtains your physicians approval to start. ***