Walking is the most popular form of cardio — it’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. To get the most from your walk, follow these guidelines. (If you have a chronic health condition such as heart disease or diabetes, check with your doctor before taking your first step.)
Walk Briskly for 3 to 5 minutes at a pace that is at a 3 or 4 RPE.
After Your Warmup, Perform Toe Raises and Ankle Rolls. Toe raises: Stand in place. With one foot at a time, raise your toes, flexing your foot and keeping your heel on the ground. Lower your toes and repeat. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions per foot; try to increase the range of motion with each repetition. Ankle rolls: Sit or stand, holding the back of a bench or sturdy chair for balance, if you like. Lift one foot off the ground. Roll it clockwise at the ankle for 8 to 12 repetitions, then counterclockwise for 8 to 12 repetitions. Switch feet.
Strike the Ground With Your Heel First. Lift your toes without locking your knees and roll through your arches, pushing off from the ball of your foot to propel your body forward. Avoid hitting the ground with a slap.
Bend Your Elbows at a 90-Degree Angle. Keep them close to your sides and swing your arms back and forth in opposition to your leg motion. The correct swinging technique is to drive your elbow back and behind you, then bring it back up to your rib cage.
As You Walk, Stand Erect, Keep Your Head Up, and Focus on a Point 10 to 20 Feet Ahead. Also, contract your abdominal muscles and keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.
To Walk Faster, Take Shorter, Quicker Steps. Push off with your toes, land on your heel, and roll through the step.
To Burn More Calories, alternate between a brisk pace and 30-second intervals at an even more intense pace.
Treat Yourself to Good Walking Shoes. They are designed to help propel you through the heel-toe motion of the proper walking technique and can help prevent walking-related injuries such as knee problems. Buy them from an experienced salesperson at a specialty running-shoe store.
Purchase a Pedometer. This inexpensive little gadget clips onto your belt or waistband and tracks the number of steps you take during the day — a fun, easy, and inexpensive form of motivation.
If You Walk Outside, dress in weather-appropriate layers. The layer closest to your skin should be made of a fabric such as polypropylene that will wick sweat away from your skin. (Cotton holds sweat next to the skin.) The next layer should insulate — a shirt or hoodie that can easily be removed when you warm up, for example. For your outer layer, don a light jacket — windproof for cooler weather, waterproof or water-resistant for wet weather.
If You Walk at Night, invest in a mesh reflective safety vest, available at biking or running shops.
Reprinted from: Tank Top Arms, Bikini Belly, Boy Shorts Bottom: Tighten and Tone Your Body in as Little as 10 Minutes a Day by Minna Lessig © 2007 by Rodale Inc. (April 2007;$18.95US/$22.95CAN; 978-1-59486-562-6) Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling at (800) 848-4735.