The last thing I noticed, was how much walking helps with the writing process. There’s been research into this, too; into the synchronicity between walking and writing. Joyce walked, Wordsworth walked; so did Virginia Woolf. Dickens used to walk 20 miles a day, which makes me feel… competitive. Walking, researchers believe, helps with memory and promotes new connections in the brain. It definitely shifts whatever writer’s block I have ever experienced; if I ever get stuck: I just go for a walk. Walking always fixes it.
This class allows you to choose your own "speed" of walking, whether it be a 20-minute per mile pace, or a 12-minute per mile pace. All class members meet together at the beginning and end of each class session to stretch, and to share in the camaraderie that exists in activity groups like this. During the time allotted for the cardiovascular portion of the class, each individual will be expected to participate to the fullest at their own fitness level.
Heavier people burn calories at a quicker rate than lighter people during every form of exercise, including walking. According to the University of Maryland Medical System, a 120-pound person who walks for 60 minutes at a moderate pace of 2 mph burns about 256 calories. People who weigh 180 and 240 pounds, however, burn about 384 and 512 calories, respectively, during the same length of walk at the same speed.
This one may seem obvious, but it's certainly a happy benefit for those who start walking regularly, says Dr. Jampolis. "As you continue to walk, you may notice your pants begin to fit more loosely around your midsection, even if the number on the scale isn't moving much," she says. "That's because regular walking can help improve your body's response to insulin, which can help reduce belly fat." Ariel Iasevoli, a personal trainer at Crunch gyms in New York City, adds that walking every day is one of the most effective low-impact ways to mobilize fat and positively alter body composition. "Daily walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories and by preventing muscle loss, which is particularly important as we get older," says Iasevoli. The best part? You don't have to slog it out on a treadmill at the gym to see these benefits. "One of my clients reduced her body fat by 2% in just one month by walking home from work each day, which was just under a mile," she says.
There’s no word yet on if and when this new calculation will be implemented on a wider scale (or be included in your next Fitbit software update). But for now, keep adding extra steps to your everyday routine by parking your car at the end of the lot, or asking your friend or significant other if you can swap those post-work drinks for a scenic stroll instead (or just do both!).
As you get started toward the recommended 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise five days per week, aim to exercise at a level that just lets you keep up a conversation during the activity. If you can get out three or four sentences in a row without gasping for air, it’s a sign that you’re maintaining an intensity that is truly aerobic, meaning aerobic metabolism is supplying the vast majority of your body’s energy, Jonesco says.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
So where do you start? “The right place to start with walking intervals will depend on your current fitness level, but here's a treadmill interval template to test out and see what adjustments you need to make,” says Spraul. “Start by walking for 5 minutes at a comfortable speed with no incline to get warmed up. Once you're done there, increase the incline to 5 percent for 3 minutes (no need to increase the speed when you're first starting out). After those 3 minutes are up, return to 0 incline for 1 minute of rest, while keeping the same speed. Repeat this for 3-5 rounds, depending on how you're feeling. Then you can adjust as needed: To add difficulty, you can increase the ‘work’ time that you spend on the incline, decrease the time you spend ‘resting’ at 0 incline or increase the pace of each phase. Find what works for you, and slowly increase your difficulty over time to keep making progress!”
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
Mental health got me walking in the first instance. I was in my late twenties, and beginning to understand that the love of my life (London) was also my chief tormentor. The stress of the city and the stress of my job as a journalist, got the better of me and I became claustrophobic, which meant I could no longer stand to travel around London’s endless sprawl by Underground. (I’ve since discovered this is incredibly common in Londoners, and God, how transparent we all are! The thing that ferries us to work, aka ground zero on much of our stress; the thing that speeds relentlessly round our city - its logistical arteries - is also the thing we’re likely to fall apart on, and ultimately: resist and refuse.) So I ditched the tube for the bus.
Select an activity with a high probability that you will stick with it. It doesn't necessarily have to be fun, it just has to be something realistic that you are willing and able to do. You're probably setting yourself up to fail if you work 12 hours a day, take care of three young children, and still plan to use a treadmill at a gym that's a 45-minute commute from where you work or live. Instead, choose something more convenient. I love the "five minutes out, five minutes back" plan to get started. Just like it sounds, you walk out for five minutes at a moderate intensity (aerobic exercise), turn around, and walk back. That's it. Ten minutes of walking and off you go about your day. If you feel ambitious, start with seven and a half or even 10 minutes out and back, and add some abdominal crunches if you like when you finish. Keep in mind that you can always add more later on. The important thing is to get started.
But just because it isn’t as time- or energy-efficient as running doesn’t mean you should never look to walking as exercise. Whether you’re running or walking, you can reduce your risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and improve your cardiovascular health, according to data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study.
“Some people walk like this.” Joanna Hall, sports scientist, one-time TV fitness guru and now walking expert springs off to demonstrate a walk. She looks purposeful, compact and speedy, like a person on her way to give someone a piece of her mind. It is a fine walk. But I can tell from her manner that it does not meet the criteria of WalkActive, a walking programme Hall devised from scratch eight years ago. “And some people walk like this,” Hall continues. She embarks on a diffident shuffle, with arms swinging aimlessly from side to side.
How can you know if you are working in the right intensity? Using an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) chart can help you to determine the appropriate intensity. The scale uses a 1 to 10 rating system. One is very light, such as walking to the refrigerator for a glass of milk. Ten would be a very significant level, representing maximal exercise. Ten would be indicative of not being able to take another step without fear of collapse. It is not recommended for anyone to work at a rate of 10 without strict supervision by a healthcare provider. Moderate intensity is the level of exercise that is most recommended, and can be determined by a rating between a 3 and a 5.
The best way to warm up is to walk slowly. Start off each walk at a leisurely pace to give your muscles time to warm up, and then pick up the speed. Afterwards, gently stretch your leg muscles – particularly your calves and front and back thighs. Stretches should be held for about 20 seconds. If you feel any pain, ease off the stretch. Don’t bounce or jolt, or you could overstretch muscle tissue and cause microscopic tears, which lead to muscle stiffness and tenderness.