Making the Transition to Jogging
Advanced walking involves walking more quickly for longer times. You should feel an increased perception of effort, but the exercise intensity should not be too stressful. Vary your pace to allow for intervals of slow, medium, and fast walking. Keep your heart rate toward the lower end of your target zone with brief periods in the upper levels. At first, walk for 30 minutes and increase your walking time gradually until eventually you reach 60 minutes at a brisk pace and can walk 2-4 miles. Try to walk at least five days per week. Vary your program by changing the pace and distance or by walking routes with different terrains and views. You can expect to burn 200-350 calories or more during each advanced walking session.
Increase the intensity of exercise by gradually introducing jogging into your walking program. During a 2-mile walk, for example, periodically jog for 100 yards and then resume walking. Increase the number and distance of your jogging segments until you can jog continuously for the entire distance. More physically fit people may be capable of jogging without walking first. However, people unaccustomed to jogging should initially combine walking with short bouts of jogging.
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A good strategy is to exercise on a 400-meter track at a local high school or college. Begin by covering 800 meters jogging the straightaways and walking the turns. Progress to walking 200 meters (half lap) and jogging 200 meters; jogging 400 meters and walking 200 meters; jogging 800 meters, walking 200 meters; and jogging 1200 meters, walking 200 meters. Continue until you can jog 2 miles without stopping.
During the transition to jogging, adjust the ratio of walking to jogging to keep within your target heart rate zone as much as possible. Most people who sustain a continuous jogging or running program will find that they can stay within their target heart rate zone with a speed of 5.5 7.5 miles per hour (8-11 minutes per mile). Exercise at least every other day. Increasing frequency by doing other activities on alternate days will place less stress on the weight-bearing parts of your lower body than will a daily program of walking/ jogging.
Developing Muscular Strength and Endurance and Flexibility
Walking, jogging, and running provide muscular endurance workouts for your lower body; they also develop muscular strength of the lower body to a lesser degree. If you’d like to increase your speed and performance, you might want to focus your program on lower-body exercises. (Don’t neglect upper-body strength. It is important for overall wellness.) For flexibility, pay special attention to the hamstrings and quadriceps, which are not worked through their complete range of motion during walking or jogging. Strength training, particularly bodybuilding, can sometimes decrease flexibility, so stretching is particularly important for people who lift weights.
Staying with Your Walking/Jogging Program
Health experts have found that simple motivators such as using a pedometer, walking a dog, parking farther from the office or grocery store, or training for a fun run help people stay with their programs. Use a pedometer or GPS exercise device to track your progress and help motivate you to increase distance and speed. Accurate pedometers for walking, such as those made by Omron, Yamax, and New Lifestyles, cost $20-$40 and are accurate to about 5%. Sophisticated GPS-based devices and apps made by Polar, Garmin, and Nike keep track of your exercise speed and distance via satellite, monitor heart rate, and store data that can be downloaded wirelessly to your computer or their own websites. Several of these units can be plugged into programs such as Google Earth, which give you a satellite view of your walking or jogging route.
A pedometer can also help you increase the number of steps you walk each day. Most sedentary people take only 2000 to 3000 steps per day. Adding 1000 steps per day and increasing gradually until you reach 10,000 steps can increase fitness and help you manage your weight. The nonprofit organization Shape Up America! has developed the 10,000 Steps program to promote walking as a fitness activity (www.shapeup.org).