Walking is the one of the best exercises for most 55+ active adults and the most popular. Fitness walking is when you take casual walking one step further and develop a purposeful walking plan to walk faster, farther and more frequent.
You will reap more benefits in the same time spent with fitness walking. Assuming you already walk sometimes and want to take the next step, how do you develop your fitness walking program?
How to Develop a Fitness Walking Program
- Decide when you will be walking and schedule a time to walk at least 3 times a week. Many people like to walk every other day, so Monday, Wednesday and Friday are options. Walking in the morning is great for many because they know they will get it done, rather than trying to work walking in later in the day. You may be walking 5 or 6 times a week before you know it.
- Start walking slow and build up your speed and distance over time. Maybe start with two or three miles. I like to walk for an hour a day.
- Vary your routine, walking harder some days and easier other days. Within the same workout, using interval training to go faster for a ways, then slower, then faster, etc. is a good practice.
- Get a walking buddy or join a walking group. Remember you are doing fitness walking, not just a casual social walk.
- Attend some local walking events. Many if not all running events now are open to walking. They even changed the names to run/walk. Ask your local running shoe store or better yet check active.com and search “walking” and your location.
Why I Like Walking Events
- Helps get you motivated. Takes you to the next level.
- Competition with yourself and others in your age bracket.
- Helps you gauge your progress
- Feels great!
Many people like to walk close to home and residents of active adult communities have plenty of places to walk with sidewalks, parkways, LifePaths, and parks nearby. Parks are a nice place to walk. Check with your local senior center also as they may have a walking group. They will have an annual senior games with walking events too.
Consider your Walking Form – Walking Technique
Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Be mindful of how you are walking and use these walking techniques to build your fitness walking form.
TIPS FOR FITNESS WALKING FORM
- USE GOOD POSTURE. Walk tall, Keep your chest raised, and shoulders relaxed – shoulders down, back and relaxed. Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright
- HEAD LEVEL look forward (not at the ground), gazing about 20 feet ahead. Your chin should be level and your head up.
- BEND YOUR ARMS in slightly less than a 90 degree angle. Cup your hands gently. Swing arms front to back. Do not swing side to side – arms should not cross your body. Do not swing elbows higher than your sternum (breast bone). Swing your arms faster and your feet will follow.
- SHORT FASTER STEPS
- LAND ON YOUR HEELS
- ROLL THRU AND PUSH OFF. Push off with your toes. Concentrate on landing on your heel, rolling through the step and pushing off with your toes. Use the natural spring of your calf muscles to propel you forward. You’re walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.
WALKING DON’TS – COMMON MISTAKES MADE BY WALKERS
- Do not over stride especially in front.
- Do not use too vigorous arm movements.
- Do not look at the ground. Keep that head up.
- Do not hunch your shoulders
- Do not carry hand weights or place weights on your ankles
Fitness walking is a fun activity as well as a great exercise that you can do for the rest of your life. Make the commitment and form the habit. You will be glad you did.
Robert Fowler, Racewalker
Racewalking is a type of fitness walking that I practice and like a lot. Here is Ian Whatley giving the basic of how to race walk.