10 Fitness Walking Tips – Lose Weight and Get in Shape

By Chrissy MacDonald

If you’ve been in hibernation all winter avoiding icy sidewalks and snow drifts, now there’s no excuse. It’s time to get outside. Spring is finally here!

It’s been a long cold and snowy winter here in Nova Scotia. Now the grass is showing some green and tiny buds are forming on the trees. I’m finished with the snow shoes – finally.

Walking is a great way to get in shape. Since walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can help increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. Walking is a good way to lose weight since every mile you travel burns about 100 calories. Think of that as a medium cookie or half a chocolate bar. Since metabolism is boosted after exercise, your body will burn calories more efficiently after a walk.

Whether you enjoy a leisurely stroll in the evening or walking through the malls, walking is a great exercise. Any type of walking is enjoyable and contributes to active living. Fitness walking or speed walking is more vigorous. When you breathe harder, it gives your heart and lungs a workout.

Here are a few ideas to help make your fitness walking more efficient.

  1. Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. If you have knee or ankle issues, it’s especially important to have good support.
  2. Warm up by walking slower for the first five or ten minutes, then pick up the pace in the middle of the walk, and end your walk with a cool down or slower pace. If you get calf pain after walking, warming up will help prevent this.
  3. When picking up the pace, make your strides faster instead of longer.
  4. Drink water before and after your fitness walks. If you are going for a long walk, bring a water bottle.
  5. Pay attention to your breathing and keep it controlled. Try breathing with your steps –in with two or three steps – out with two or three steps (depending on how fast you are going).
  6. Keep your posture upright. Relax shoulders. Swing arms forward and back. Don’t use ankle or hand weights which throw the body off balance and makes it hard on the joints. Do strength training separately.
  7. Eat a healthy diet with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Stay away from high protein, low fat or any deprivation fad diets. A healthy balanced diet will help maintain a healthy body and provide energy for exercise.
  8. Incorporate some simple stretches after your walk. Speed walking tightens the hamstring muscles in the back of the legs. A good stretch is to lie on your back, put a belt under your foot, extend the leg and feel a gentle stretch behind the thigh without pulling behind the knee. Hold for about 20 seconds and then do the other leg.
  9. To stay motivated to walk for exercise, get together with a friend for a walk instead of talking over coffee. Or take your backpack and do a few errands.
  10. Check with your doctor before you start any new exercise including fitness walking.

Walking is a great way to stay in shape and enjoy the fresh Spring air. And it makes you feel good. Happy trails!

Getting Back on Track after a Setback

By Chrissy MacDonald

Have you ever had a setback in your plan to be healthy, fit and happy?

Maybe you vowed to cut back on drinking or to quit smoking or stop eating junk food. Maybe you started an exercise program as a New Year’s Resolution but it’s fallen by the wayside. Or maybe your dream of losing 10 pounds by Spring somehow fizzled.

We all want to be healthy and happy. It’s good to strive to be a kind and loving person who doesn’t gossip or waste precious time on useless activities.

We do our best but it’s too easy to fall back into old habits. But when we do, the important thing is to just get back on track.

Every day I plan to do these things: write, practice Yoga, walk the dog, read the Bible, meditate. I also try to be calm and content and positive and live in the present moment. Cleaning the house, making meals and getting groceries, stuff like that, is a given. They must be done. And with this little Vizsla puppy, I need to get outside for a walk to give her exercise. So that gets me outside too. As for the other things, I admit they don’t always get done every single day. But I try. And every day, I try again.

We falter, do things we regret and we omit important things from our lives. But when that happens, we need to forgive ourselves for making a mistake or giving up or not doing something we promised ourselves we’d do.

We need to love ourselves and carry on. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

If you make a mistake, if exercising gets sidetracked or you smoke that first cigarette after going weeks without, remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Re-focus. Pick yourself up and continue on your journey.

Have a beautiful day!

“We have two lives—the one we learn with and the life we live after that.”
Bernard Malamud

13 Tips for Strength Training with Weights or Tubing

By Chrissy MacDonald

Strength training, or resistance training, will tighten a flabby body and help create a lean and firm physique. It will also strengthen muscles and bones and can help performance in sports. Resistance training is an important part of a complete fitness program.

Resistance training can be done using weights or tubing or your own body weight as in push ups and pull ups. Practicing Yoga is also a great way to get the benefits but, in this post, we’ll focus on using weights and resistance tubing.

Keep in mind, these are guidelines. Before beginning any new exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor if you have health concerns.

  1. Learn the proper form and technique for the exercises. Paying for even one a session with a qualified personal trainer is a good idea to get a program and learn proper technique.
  2. Include an exercise for each of the major muscle groups. You don’t need to do several different exercises for the same muscle group.
  3. Warm up your body for five to ten minutes with an activity such as walking before beginning your weight training session.
  4. Use good posture. Keep the abdomen contracted and spine in good alignment, chest wide and shoulders relaxed.
  5. Start with a lighter weight and focus first on strengthening the joints so they will be prepared to handle increasing intensity over time. Many people get started on a program and end up quitting because of sore elbows, shoulders or knees. Don’t be in a hurry to use heavy weights. You will see results with a consistent and well planned program.
  6. Move the weight slowly. It should take about three seconds to lift the weight and two to three seconds to lower it. By going too fast, you may be using momentum and not getting the full benefit of the exercise.
  7. Do eight to ten repetitions of each exercise. If you cannot do eight repetitions slowly and with good form, the weight is too heavy. If you can do more than 12 with perfect technique, increase the weight by 5%.
  8. A set is a group of repetitions. Start with one set and add a second set after two or three sessions.
  9. Reassess your program every two or three weeks. Challenge the muscles by increasing the weight gradually for best results. Sticking with the same weight for too long will not give you much benefit.
  10. Generally, breathe out on the exertion although the main rule about breathing is to keep breathing. Don’t hold your breath.
  11. Allow 48 hours before you train the same muscle groups again. Muscles need time to repair since resistance training is actually tearing down muscle fibers. Resting muscles will give you better results and help prevent injury.
  12. Listen to your body. If you feel pain during an exercise, stop and reassess your form or the amount of weight you are using. A few sore muscles the next day means you’ve challenged your body but this soreness should go away after a couple of days.
  13. Spend about five to ten minutes after your session stretching to help keep muscles from getting tight.A total body weight training program for general fitness can be completed in about 20 to 30 minutes twice a week.

Be consistent, don’t do too much too fast and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful, strong and lean body. Happy training!