You don’t need to have a fancy gym membership to lose weight. Instead, all you really need is motivation, determination and consistency. Stick with these three and losing weight can be practically free if you put your head to it.
In fact, walking is the least expensive and most straightforward way of dropping those stubborn pounds. If you do it correctly and pair it with the right techniques the results can be extremely impressive.
So to get you motivated, know that walking increases your metabolism and reduces stress. Your body starts to burn more calories even at rest due to stronger muscles.
Next comes determination. Following certain exercises and strategies before and after the actual walk will boost the effectiveness of your workout. Don’t let anything get in the way of that.
And to help you with consistency, step by step instructions to plan your walk are discussed below.
Pre-walk warm-up exercises
Warming up your body before starting any workout reduces the chances of injuries to the muscles. It eases your body into the ensuing regimen. Before your actual walk, start off with an easy paced stroll to get your body going. After this follow simple stretching exercises involving all the muscles used during the walk. You can do this along the following lines:
- Take long breaths. Stretch your arms in front and take them all the way up. Slowly release them to the sides.
- Make circles with your neck.
- Lift your right arm and take it over your head. Stretch it so that you can feel the tension on the right side of the body. Repeat the same on the left side.
- Make at least six circles with each ankle in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.
- After this, move your legs from your buttocks back and forth a few times.
- Make small circles with each leg, in the form of an eight, 15 to 20 times.
- Bend your knees and open your feet as wide as your hips. Slowly rotate your hips for ten repetitions one way then the other.
- Stretch your arms to the sides and swivel them 12 times. Do the same with your shoulders.
- Hop forward like a rabbit twisting your body left and right. Do 20 reps.
- Other exercises like squats and lunges are can also be included in pre-walk stretching.
What is the optimal posture for walking?
Before starting the actual walk it is important that your posture is correct. A bad posture will reduce the calorie burning benefits of walking. Also, it can induce more injury to your back and legs. There are four aspects of a perfect posture.
Straighten your neck so that the space between your ears and shoulders is maximized. However, do not tense your neck as it can lead to constricted breathing. Let down your shoulders to avoid any sore muscles post-walk.
Move your arms fluidly back and forth keeping them at a 90degree angle. Moreover, let them swing as far back as they can without any strain to the muscles. Keep your hands relaxed; not in a fist.
Keep your back straight and long. Slightly tug your abdominal muscles inside so that they are taut. Your hips should be relaxed however they should not wiggle when you walk.
Plant your feet firmly. Slightly glide your feet off the floor when walking so that your heels are the first to leave the ground and your toes are the last. Your steps should be long but just enough to avoid any injury to the leg muscles.
Planning out your walks beforehand can help you fight procrastination. A good recommendation is to go on a walk soon after waking up as your body burns most calories in the morning when it has no energy from food to consume.
Keep your pace fast while walking as this helps burn more calories. Moreover, increase your pace during your workout for a few minutes. When increasing your speed, go for more steps per minute instead of longer steps.
Also, incorporate varying terrains into your workout. Go for a hike or walk on grass, jogging tracks and footpaths interchangeably.
Decide which routes you are going to take during the week. For instance, plan to go uphill three times a week. Designate three days for fast-paced intense walks whereas two days for moderate walks.
Instead of going for an hour of a continuous walk, break down your walks into 20-minute spans. Walking a little after each meal is also better as it helps to balance sugar levels.
If all this seems much for you, then stick to the basics and follow one simple rule. Try to take 10000 to 15000 steps a day. Keep a pedometer with you and monitor your movement. If even this seems like a lot, start with fewer steps and slowly work your way up to the goal.
After the walk, it is important to cool your body and bring it to normal temperature. Also, post walk stretches help release some of the muscle tension and avoid any soreness.
After the workout, slow down and walk the final furlong at a slow speed. Sit on a bench or a chair and extend one leg out. Plant the heel, flex your foot and lean forward. You will feel some tension in the leg. Repeat it with the other leg. Keep each posture for 10 to 20 seconds.
After this, hold on to a support. Extend your left leg back keeping your heel on the ground. Bend the right knee and stoop towards the support. Hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
With support, stand with legs slightly wider than the shoulders. Keep one foot straight and tilt the other foot outwards at an angle. Perform a lunge in the direction of the tilted foot making sure that the knee does not go past the toes. Repeat on other side.
The stretching exercises for pre and post walk can be performed interchangeably as well.