We hear about the need for exercise constantly. Everyone knows they need to do it. Especially with over 60% of Americans falling into the overweight category.
So you go on a walk and then pat yourself on the back. Exercise accomplished-right?
The big question is: Can you get fit by walking?
A research team at the University of Alberta took this question on in a detailed study. They compared a group that took part in a walking program with a group that did a traditional fitness routine at moderate intensity.
The results? The fitness level of the walkers was significantly lower than those who did traditional exercise at moderate intensity. Here is what the lead researcher, Dr. Vicki Harber, had to say:
"Generally, low-intensity activity such as walking alone is not likely to give anybody marked health benefits compared to programs that occasionally elevate the intensity."
Harber went on to say that, "You've go to do more than light exercise and move towards the inclusion of regular moderate activity, and don't be shy to interject an occasional period of time at the vigorous level."
Walking for exercise won't give you the health benefits that more challenging exercise delivers. What does this mean for your walking routine? Is there any place in fitness for walking?
So What Can Walking Do For you?
There definitely is a place for walking in fitness. For anyone who has not been active for a long time, it is best to approach an exercise regimen with caution and respect your body’s limitations. Walking is a great introductory activity to master. Walking is especially great if your body is overweight, under-conditioned and simply unaccustomed to physical activity.
walking, then can be considered as a stepping stone to fitness. It transitions you from the motionless to in motion. Walking is just a notch above not moving-you'll burn a few calories and warm up unused muscles.
The problem is that walking cannot be the entire extent of your exercise regimen.
Like the study above revealed, walking just won't deliver the desired outcome. Your body is so efficient in its ability to adapt that you have to increase your exercise intensity in order to see results. This applies to more than just walking. Any time you are in an exercise rut, your body will adjust and you will stop seeing results. To progressively continue, you’ve got to progressively challenge yourself.
What’s the Next step?
Once you have mastered brisk walking, you are ready for a new challenge, namely, resistance training. If you haven't tried resistance training then it may sound a little scary. Or you conjure up pictures of bulging, veiny, muscle-bound, steroid users. Most people are not looking for those kinds of results!
Isn't resistance training just a fancy word for 'lifting weights'? And don't you have to be an athlete to lift weights?
I understand your reservations about beginning a resistance training program. However, to achieve substantial health and fitness results, you must use resistance training. Besides, you may very well quickly find that you enjoy it, especially when you see how fast your body is being sculpted and toned.
What are the benefits of Resistance Training?
• Increase in muscle strength and tone (and no, women do not need to worry about becoming bulky and bulgy)
• Increase in metabolism (this means extra fat burning)
• Increase in bone density
• Injury prevention
• Improved posture
• Improved health (lowered blood pressure and cholesterol; lowers your risk for adult-onset diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers)
• Improved mood and self esteem
Resistance training is simply the way to go when you want to get fit. By utilizing a resistance training program with a cardiovascular routine, you will be well on your way to achieving all of your fitness goals. Don't forget resistance training does not have to be weights, but can be body weight resistance like in yoga and Pilates.
The absolute most important issue for any exercise regimen to succeed is consistency. You just can't enroll in a program that you dread going to. You'll never get the results you seek that way. Get help if you need it, most people do need it. The ones who are wise enough to hire or otherwise recruit assistance are the ones who will succeed. Recruit a workout buddy. Hire a trainer. Set those appointments and stick to them. Even if you don’t hire a trainer, you can still set appointments with yourself. Physically set aside the time and do it.