Walking tips? You’ve been doing it since you were 2, right? Surely, you’ve got this, you might think. I’m all for walking during COVID19. You may have seen my post today (June 2020) about quitting the gym. For now, it’s the right decision for me. Maybe I’ll be back and maybe I’ll find other creative substitutes.
One thing is for sure. I’ve fallen in love with walking again. It started when I was walking with my mom the week after my high school graduation. By the 4th of July I was jogging, and thus began a love affair with running. But I remember walks with my mom, everywhere. We walked those tree-lined streets of my small town, and of my grandmother’s even tinier town, and of the campus we both loved. Going home in the last few years the walks are slower and shorter around her retirement community. But my walks during COVID19 remind me once again, less is more.
I’ve lost long runs and rides and swims for now. Because of it, not in spite of it, I’ve lost inches and a few pounds. I’ve recovered a lightness I didn’t realize was missing. My dog no longer wants to go further than around the block, but I’ve rediscovered I love exploring on my feet.
A Doctor or A Specialist?
Doctors often recommend walking as a best exercise. However, the blanket “walk” advice leaves a lot of information out. You’ve got less room for error after 50, especially if you’re in menopause.
If you started walking during COVID19 or you haven’t yet and want to this replay from earlier in the year is oh, so appropriate for “now.” If you, like me, choose not to date “gym” just yet, these tips will help you
This episode was originally sponsored by CBDforlife. That too may be a solution for inflammation, tension, and stress. In fact, as I increased my mileage, I’ve used the rub on my feet lately. A few restless nights I’ve used the eye cream to reduce puffiness around the eyes, too.
The walking tips here will help you prevent the most common walking mistakes women in midlife make.
#1 Too Much Too Soon
I have to start with the best of all walking tips being don’t overdo it! Fitness mistakes like this are the #1 reason for injury. I so understand the desire to get results yesterday’s yesterday, however it just won’t work out in the long term. Just because you’ve decided to put a hold your gym membership and you can’t get to hour-long classes or chat sessions with your bestie, don’t immediately exchange them for long walks.
You’ve got to have a foundation before you ramp up to more.
“Smart starts” lead to flipping fantastic finishes. Have you ever tried to read the last page or last chapter of a book without reading the middle? It’s not satisfying. It doesn’t have the impact or desired outcome on you. Neither will your fitness program.
Too much too soon is usually the cause of overuse injuries like tendinitis, most often in the IT Band, or bursitis of the hip, or plantar fasciitis.
Flip: Walk frequently but for short periods to start. THIS is also excellent for your immune system, by the way. Add 2 or 3 minutes a week to your walk per week. So week one you walk 20 minutes, week two you walk 23 minutes. It may seem slow but in a month you go from 20 minutes to 32 minutes of walking, and that’s significant. Yet you’ve allowed your joints, ligaments, and muscles to adapt.
#2 No Intensity Changes
One of the best walking tips I can give applies to all exercise. Get a variety of intensity either into every walk, or as I program for my private clients, into your weekly walking schedule. One or two days do intervals, one day do a long slow walk (ideally on a trail) so it’s a hike with terrain changes and lovely scenery. There are 5 walking workouts I share with you elsewhere (search the site> coming soon).
You need some intense walks, some easy walks, and some intermittent high and low intensity (interval) walking in your routine.
You’ve got three energy systems. Walking at the same intensity all the time will ignore two of them. It’s not good to go all out all the time. It’s also not good to go super comfortable all the time.
Common mistakes include:
- Always intervals
- Always long walks
Have purpose to your workouts. Every single one of them. Even if you’re at your ideal weight and you “look fine and don’t need to lose weight,” your best aging happens when all systems are go. Think down the road. Pun, intended.
Flip: Plan one long slow day, a short interval training day with at least 4 “repeats” of 30 seconds or a minute of fast or hill walking alternated with recovery, and a moderate intensity day in each week.
See 5 Walking Workouts You’ll Run to For Results (coming soon – just use the search feature on this site to find it)
#3 No Strength Training
Walking is cardiovascular exercise that – alone – will have very little positive influence on your lean muscle mass. You lose muscle easier than you gain it after 50. To preserve it, and to gain any, you absolutely must strength train.
[If you care about your health, longevity, and fitness over 50 and you are not measuring body composition as frequently as you weigh yourself, what are you doing? Get a scale that measures body fat and lean muscle now. If you lose weight, and its muscle you will decrease your metabolism now, and increase your odds of frailty and dependence on others in the decades ahead.]
You’ll decrease your percent body fat by increasing your lean, and that ultimately will support a higher metabolism that then helps fat loss.
Not Strength Training? Or not seeing results? Was your program built for women in menopause and beyond? This is your program.
A walking for weight loss walking tips bible would say know fat loss, not weight loss, is your first and highest priority. You can lose weight, but if it’s muscle you are also losing metabolism and will gain fat.
Don’t go walking down that road after 50!
Your posture and power in push off during walking will improve too so every step is more effective and efficient.
#4 You Do Intervals Immediately
Similar to #1, you’ve got to have a foundation. Speed is known to cause more injury than resistance. Before you try something, anything, fast, you have to learn the proper way to do it slow.
The desire to use intervals when you walk, especially if you’ve been doing them elsewhere – say attending a spinning class or doing elliptical – may be strong. Resist baby. Every mode of exercise has nuances and the body needs a chance to get used to it.
Even if you feel you could do more your body has parts that need to adapt.
Flip: Return to #1 and review. Make sure you’ve been walking regularly for a few weeks before you ramp up interval training.
#5 No Warmup and or Cool Down
Sure, it’s just walking, but you want to begin it slowly. You may not need a static stretch before you start. However, if you have a history of ankle, knee, or hip issues I would definitely take a few minutes and stretch before you go.
By the way, ankle-related issues are an age-related problem. Don’t read that to say you’re bound to have them. But doing range of motion exercises, and warming up before doing more than daily activities of living, can help you maintain range of motion as you age.
Be sure to take 5 or 10 minutes to stretch at the end of a walk. Your muscles are warm and ripe for flexibility and mobility benefits of stretching. You can do a joint and muscle specific stretch or hit several muscle groups at once (for example, a warrior pose from yoga).
Now, how does that help weight loss? Warm ups and cool downs certainly aren’t “calorie burning” necessarily. A warm up does help you burn more energy during your workout. Best walking tips ever, right? But, hey, if you’re sidelined because you tried to take short cuts? Your fitness will suffer.
No idea how to do warm ups and cool downs or pull it all together? And no idea why they could be the secret to better results? You might like this.
#6 Same Route Every Time
One of the best walking tips I can give you is to regularly change the direction, duration, and scenery. Convenient as it is to head out your front door, you may need to branch out. I walked 4 times last week – all of them from my front door and no two were the same.
Walking on the same terrain repeatedly can be a problem. You’d notice it more if it were a sharp grade on the side of the road, but you may miss it when it’s just a rolling hill walk on what seems like a flat surface.
On a track for instance you may notice every other day runners are told to run clockwise or counter clockwise. That can be a problem for runners who go every other day! Not helpful!
The same walk with no change can cause you to overuse the same muscles and joints if you do it often enough. It may be so subtle you won’t notice it happening.
Flip: Change routes, walk the route backwards, walk on the other side of the street (for safety you should walk toward oncoming traffic if you’re on the side of the road or walking a bike path).
#7 Focus on Calorie Burning
If you’re only paying attention to calories you’re very likely going to go long all the time or go hard all the time or both. Which, in return will commit several of the first six mistakes I’ve listed.
It’s important to know your hormone status, or start listening to clues so you understand it. Are you constantly stressed? Can’t get up in the morning? Then a short and slow walk a couple times a day may be best for you.
Calories don’t control your weight (or fat): hormones do. So pay attention to hormones.
You can learn more about hormones, their signs and symptoms and what that means for exercise here.
There you have it, my walking tips for making COVID19 a walk in the park.
Make It More Fun
How can you make your walk more fun, less work? Take Flipping 50 with you! I love, love catching up on podcasts during my walks! Download to your phone by subscribing on iTunes (or where you listen to podcasts) and each episode is time stamped so you can listen to one for a short walk or choose a longer episode or two short ones for a longer walk.
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