This week we will look to the future; ways you can progress your walking program and how to maintain it after the challenge has ended. We will also look at some simple stretches to help you avoid injury and keep your joints mobile and muscles flexible as you build your strength and endurance.
Ways to progress your walking plan
A simple way to progress your walking is to increase your distance or walk time. Adding five to ten minutes to your walk per week, means that by week three, you will be walking 15-30 minutes daily. It can be useful to write up a simple progressive walking plan and tick it off as you achieve your walking distance or time goals.
Walking is an aerobic activity, so pace is important and another easy way to make your walk more challenging. Brisk walking has been found to help with bone health, particularly in those with osteoporosis or osteopenia. So, pick up the pace. You can also alternate between a steady pace and periods of faster walking to try some interval walking. Start with one to two minutes of a steady pace, followed by 30-60 seconds of faster walking. Aim to increase the ?pace time or the number of times you do this. Research has found that interval walking is another great way to improve your fitness.
Uphill or inclined walking routes increase the demand on both your heart and muscles. It requires more energy and therefore increased demand on your body’s systems compared to flat walking. It is for this reason you will burn more calories walking uphill and challenge your heart rate. Another great benefit of uphill walking is a greater focus on your posterior chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings, calves, and spinal muscles). These muscles are important for walking and upright postures and uphill walking helps to build strength in these muscles.
Weights can also help to add challenge to your walk. Ankle weights or small hand dumbbell weights are a popular way to increase your effort while walking. The key to adding weight is to start small and increase your weight slowly overtime. Ankle weights can place extra load on your ankle joints and change the way you walk. So, caution should be taken when applying ankle weights. A weighted vest can be a good option for those that want that extra challenge. The vest places the weight over the trunk and not the small joints of the hand or ankle. It is often advisable to check in with your physiotherapist before applying extra weight to your walk to make sure you are a good candidate for this type of progression.
Maintaining your walking plan
Over the past three weeks, you have begun forming a new healthy routine and behaviour. Now is the perfect time to keep this momentum and turn this walking plan into a daily habit.
Social interaction and community are also key to maintaining your new exercise routine. Connect with like-minded people, join your local walking club, or set one up if your community doesn’t have one. Walking with friends or others promotes prosocial behaviours that enhance psychological wellbeing, creates better social relationships, improve your physical health, and foster greater adherence to exercise longevity. CL
Five simple stretches for walkers
Here are five simple stretches you can do to warm up for your walk or cool down. Each stretch should be held for 20-30 seconds, moderate intensity and repeated two-three times on each leg.
Standing quad stretch
Standing figure 4 stretch
Hip flexor stretch
Be in with a chance to win a luxurious break to Fota Island Resort
in Cork by simply sending us a photo taking part in the
challenge, with 200 words or less about your favourite
walk to ww.ifj.ie/getactive by 6 October.
Nestled at the heart of a peaceful island and just eight miles from the bustling city of Cork, the winner will enjoy a two-night stay for two adults with breakfast each morning and dinner in The Amber Lounge on an evening of your choice.
Experience the great facilities onsite at Fota Island Resort, including many walking trails, an indoor swimming pool, the WorldClass Fota Island Spa, the exclusive Cove Restaurant, or enjoy tee time on the golf course. Discover all that the surrounding area has to offer with a visit to Fota Wildlife Park, Fota House and Gardens, the world-class English Market, Ballymaloe’s wonderful gardens and shops, the farmers market in Midleton, Ballycotton’s cliff walk and the beautiful blue flag beaches nearby. If you’re not lucky enough to win on this occasion, you can find out more about the autumn packages available at Fota Island Resort by visiting www.fotaisland.ie
T&Cs apply: Prize is 2BB1D for 2 x adults, subject to availability. Non-transferable and not valid for July & August, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, seasonal holidays or bank holiday weekends. Valid 12 months.