With everything else in place – your hips lifted, your neck long and straight – the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder should be liberated and your arms should shuffle themselves quite freely and intuitively into the right movement pattern. Except that it’s not quite that simple: if you want to use them as agents of acceleration, and you do, you have to use more deliberation. Move your arms across to the centre of your body and then quite far back.
5. Dunstan DW, Barr ELM, Healy GN, et al. Television viewing time and mortality. The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation 2010; 121: 384-91. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.894824v1?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Dunstan&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
Classes are great for people who like to exercise with others, who like to dance, who like music and rhythm, who want the extra motivation and energy that an instructor and class provides, and who prefer the structure and schedule of a regular class. Classes, equipment, and videos are all great ways to stay fit and healthy, but if you're limited by injury or other conditions, then aerobic exercise chair workouts may be just the thing (see resources for online vendors). The instructor leads you through a workout in a chair and it's great exercise. You might not need chair exercise, but you may have a parent or friend who does. Exercise videos and DVDs make great gifts!
Whether you are about to start a walking program or you've been walking regularly, it pays to work on your walking posture and stride to get the most benefits. Beginners should first prepare with a check-up and the right clothes and shoes. Everyone can then benefit from using the best walking technique for posture, arm motion, and stride. Use a schedule to build up your walking time and practice your technique.
“Carrying extra weight will increase the intensity and your calories burned without requiring a lot of extra effort, depending on the weight you use,” adds Spraul. "You can hold dumbbells in your hands or put some heavy books in a backpack — whatever works for you! It doesn't have to be complicated. Just make sure that the added weight is not throwing you off balance.”
Use the 1-to-10 scale of perceived rate of exertion to measure endurance. Think of 1 as watching TV; 10 is gasping for air (you can't go any further). Daily walks, for example, are 5 or even 6-6.5 sometimes. Twice a week, crank it up to 7, 8, or 9 on a steep hill for a few minutes. Now you're burning serious calories and building real aerobic fitness through interval training.
The technical definition of aerobic exercise is “any form of exercise or activity that uses the aerobic metabolism — meaning oxygen is heavily involved in the cellular reactions that provide the body with the energy necessary to perform activity,” explains Michael Jonesco, DO, an assistant professor of internal and sports medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “You’re making yourself more efficient at delivering oxygen to the rest of the body.”
Many people aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles)—and an industry of fitness tracking devices has emerged to support them—but that magic number didn’t originate from scientific research, says John Schuna Jr., Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Oregon State College of Public Health. “It was first used in a Japanese marketing effort associated with one of the first commercial pedometers.” The device was called “manpo-kei,” which literally means "10,000 steps meter" in Japanese.
"By adding some variables into the mix you can turn a simple walk into a fun, fast interval session, burning a high level of calories, and in turn, crushing your fat cells,” adds Rob McGillivray, Founder of RETROFIT in West Hollywood. “Essentially we burn the most calories by repeatedly raising and lowering the heart rate, as opposed to keeping the heart rate at one steady pace, whether that be high or low. So, if you were to compare the heart rate fluctuations of someone walking up a mixture of steep hills and then add in variations of walking speeds, styles of walking (such as lunging, striding, side cross overs, etc.) to that of someone primarily running at a medium pace on a level gradient, you could see greater all round results on both your body's caloric burn and a greater degree of lower limb muscle groups being targeted. It is also said that hill walking, as opposed to running on a level gradient, can enable you to burn more fat without attacking lean muscle tissue.”
By paying just a little attention to your posture as you walk, you can help tone your abs and reduce your waistline. Concentrate on straightening your spine to create space between your ears and shoulders, relax your shoulders and pull in your stomach and pelvic floor. This helps your shoulders naturally rotate and works the abdominal muscles. And swinging your arms (backwards and forwards as you walk) faster not only increases your speed but also tones your arms, shoulders and upper back. So there’s a double benefit here, by thinking a little about how you walk you can improve your posture and get a better workout too!
That’s because the body requires energy to recover from exercise. “The greater the intensity and volume, the more calories will be burned after the exercise is completed,” explains Iain Hunter, a professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. When exercising, you burn some of your stored fuels; replenishing those stores takes energy. Your body uses energy to repair any microdamage from exercise as well. Plus, “along with caloric expenditure, there are many other benefits to higher intensity exercise, such as increased bone density, improved strength and endurance, more resilient cartilage and other tissues that degrade over time, and psychological health.”
Walking for 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity is great. Walking for a longer period of time is better still. As you get fitter, you will be able to walk more briskly. Walking up and down hills will also help to boost stamina and leg strength. You’ll get even more benefits from a walk if you swing your arms as this helps you walk faster and can burn 5 to 10 percent more kilojoules.
Walking can also increase your lung capacity. When you walk, you breathe in more oxygen as compared to when you are stationary. This exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide at a larger volume can help increase your lung capacity, thereby increasing your stamina and exercise performance (16). The best part is, you don’t even have to run. A medium-paced 60-minute walk (with breaks, if you need them!) can do the trick.
Pedometers also work well for people who simply don't have time or don't take time to walk consistently as a form of exercise. By tracking the number of steps you take each day simply doing your regular daily activities, you may find that you're getting in plenty of exercise. Some experts recommend 10,000 steps a day. Others say this would be an eventual target.
Complete your workout with a three to five minute cooldown. It will give your muscles a chance to slow down gradually and reduce the risk of dizziness. Individuals who stop aerobic exercise abruptly can experience "pooling" of blood in the legs from standing still right after exertion. Cooling down is important after any aerobic activity, so always make sure to take three to five minutes at the end of your workout to slow down gradually.
Every session of aerobic exercise should include a warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up period should not include static stretching, but should instead be a gradual increase in pace and intensity of the exercise. This allows for the body to increase blood flow to the muscles, and decreases the likelihood of a muscle or joint injury. The warm-up should last between 5 and 10 minutes. The cool-down session should last a similar amount of time as the warm-up, with the pace gradually decreasing. Stretching exercises would be appropriate after aerobic exercise.