You do need to have two to three non-consecutive days per week where you put a little push in your walk. On the remaining days of the week it is best to walk at a moderate pace. You can over exercise. There is a term for it, over training. Your body needs some stress to get strong too much stress injures your body.
I am a big believer in interval training. Interval training is done within your workout time. You vary your intensity from fast and hard for about four minutes, slow it down for a few minutes to catch your breath, and then fast and hard again throughout your walk. That really pumps up your calorie burning and conditions your body faster than maintaining a steady pace.
Being aware of how your body is responding to the challenging segments of your walk is crucial. You can take your heart rate but an easier method is using what is called "perceived exertion". That is a fancy way of saying, pay attention to how you are feeling.
A scale of one to ten is used to judge where you are in your effort level. One is little effort and ten is too much effort. When you are doing the push segments of your walk you want to be at about an eight level. Your general pace should be about a five on the perceived exertion scale.
The talk test is another simple measure of where you are on your effort level. On the push segments you should feel like you could say a few words if need be but would prefer not to. You should never push yourself to the point where you could not talk at all. The moderate pace you should be able to carry on a conversation.
You can increase your effort when walking outside by adding some hills and or wearing a back friendly backpack with weights in it to increase your effort. Start with light weights and then work your way up to a bit heavier weights. Always caution toward a lighter amount of weight. You are just trying to add some challenge not to damage your body.
I am not a supporter of wearing leg weights or holding hand weights when walking. I believe that puts too much stress on your joints and can cause injury. Your arms and or legs are swinging with your motion which can compromise your joints and other skeletal structures. The back pack is stationary so as long as the pack is well- fitting and the weight amount you are carrying is appropriate the chance of injury should be less. You can buy weighted vests that work very well and further eliminate the risk of injury.
If you walk on a treadmill, you can increase the incline and have segments where you increase your speed to create the push needed on your more go for it days.
Walking three to seven days a week and making use of this system two or three of those days should increase the benefits you receive from your aerobic walking.
Your fitness expert
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