Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Building Functional Strength: Take a Hike!

Building functional strength by walking? Are you serious? I thought I'd be doing pushups and bench presses not walking! But wait a minute grasshopper. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Walking can build functional strength! First of all remember we are not trying to build great biceps. We ARE working to build functional strength and all around fitness. To me all around fitness is a combination of strength, endurance, reflexes and balance. Walking incorporates and develops all these qualities.

Your first line of defense is being able to get away from an immediate threat. Walking is the beginning of developing the endurance and mobility necessary to move and move fast! Walking IS a body weight exercise. Your entire body is supporting you when you walk. Walking is probably the easy and safest exercise. I also think it's important to walk outdoors weather permiting. You have heard all the advice about using the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from your destination and basically walk when ever you can.

As with any exercises start slow and gradually increase the distance.  Get yourself a good pair of walking/cross training shoes. Wear a pedometer, Fitbit or download and app on your smart phone. For me I just add ten minutes a week to my walk. But whatever works for you just "Do It"!

Once you have build up to one mile and a pace of twenty minutes try increasing your pace. I recommend the old try and true "Scouts Pace". Basically you walk 100 steps or paces and slow jog 100 then repeat until you have reached your daily distance. Whether you want to eventually start to run instead of walk go ahead. But again go slow. Try for five days of walking, gradually increasing the time/distance and increasing your pace. If balance and/or dogs are a concern take along a walking stick, which by the way is an excellent defensive weapon. More on this later.

As you continue with your program your notice your balance improving and an increase in endurance. Your leg muscles will show some definition, your stomach will slim and tighten and if you use a walking stick/cane your upper body will strengthen. all in all a pretty good start and you did it all just by walking!

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