Only one day – as is not entirely unusual – my bus simply did not come. I waited and I waited, and I waited some more, my blood pressure rising, spitting and swearing and huffing and puffing over the unimaginable injustice of a BUS THAT WOULD NOT COME, alongside gathering hoards of similarly frustrated non-passengers… Then, after 20 minutes, spurred onwards by a desire to demonstrate I simply would not stand for such abysmal service! - I walked.
Start with the basics: your shoes. Trainers are best, with very flexible soles; too rigid and you won’t be able to feel your entire foot. They should have a boxy front rather than one that tapers, so you can feel every toe. Most trainers are a little bit wrong, and Hall is now developing her own. But, she says, by the time you know what you’re doing, you can wear almost anything.
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.
"Just the fact that you are using your arms through a greater range of motion than normal means you burn more calories," says Pocari. On average, people use 20 percent more calories when they use poles. Participants in his studies increased their upper body strength by 40 percent and reduced impact on vulnerable hips, ankles and knees by 26 percent compared with running.
The effect of this is even more striking than that of the active foot: the abdominal muscles seem to kick in on their own, and the collar bones drop and straighten in a queenly, warrior fashion. My walk becomes a lot more regal, yet paradoxically, faster. “May I touch you?” Hall asks again, because I can only keep this up for maybe 20 paces before I forget and sink back into my hips.
A single activity can include elements of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. For example, interval training, where you alternate cycles of low-intensity (aerobic) and high-intensity (anaerobic) work during the same workout, has elements of both. So does a game of tennis where you might sprint at one moment (anaerobic) and then move less aggressively for several minutes (aerobic) as you hit ground strokes from the baseline.
Walking is also really easy to do, he points out: “You can do it anywhere, it's easy to get started, and there’s no setup time.” And, if you want to lose weight but are nervous about diving straight in to higher-impact activities, walking can help you lose body fat upfront, before you add in other types of fitness like running or spinning, says Matheny.
How to measure progress: Other than simply feeling great and watching the scale, you can actually measure what walking is doing for your body. Before you begin your activity program, have your doctor check your cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose (high levels can be a sign of early or undiagnosed diabetes), and your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a number that reflects your height-to-weight ratio (simply take your weight in pounds, multiply by 703 and divide by your height in inches squared -- keep this number under 25 for optimal health).