Walking is a great
cardiovascular exercise and is often preferable because of its
simplicity, low risk of injury, and adaptability to busy schedules.
Benefits include increased cardio-respiratory (heart and lung) health,
decreased body fat, decreased risk of heart disease increased bone
strength, lower risk of injury, and improved leg and low back muscle
Walking is appropriate for those with low functional capacity who
need an initial low-intensity workout (beginners). Because walking is
generally less intense than jogging, you can maintain longer exercise
sessions with less risk of injury.
Proper footwear is very important for a safe and effective
walking program. Specialized walking shoes are available at most shoe
stores-although many women prefer a good running shoe. The ideal walking
shoe should have a low head profile and firm durable mid-sole.
Always warm-up, stretch, and cool-down during your walking
session. Begin each session by walking at a low intensity for 5-10
minutes (warm-up) and then stretch your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings,
hips, and low back muscles (refer to the WF Flexibility Training
component for the principles and techniques of stretching).
After your exercise session, cool-down by walking at a low
intensity for another 5-10 minutes and then stretch the same muscles as
Be sure to breathe regularly throughout the exercise session.
As you walk, be sure to keep your back straight, your abdominal
tight, and “pump” your arms back and forth.
It is also important to gradually increase the duration (the time
you spend in each session) before you increase the intensity. That is,
when beginning a walking program, be more concerned with increasing the
number of minutes of the exercise session before you increase the
intensity, by increasing your speed or walking hilly terrain. Interval
training. is an effective method of gradually increasing your intensity.
Refer to the WF Cardiovascular Exercise
contents for the principles and guidelines of a safe and effective
cardiovascular exercise program-including recommendations for duration,
frequency and intensity (and how to monitor it) of a program that is right for
you and the goals you want to achieve.