You’ve made the decision. Today’s the day. You’re a woman in midlife and you’re going to get serious about walking as exercise. The benefits of brisk walking are just too many to ignore, as we’ll discuss with the walking tips that follow.
Walking is so simple, anyone who has the physical ability to walk can turn a stroll into a workout that burns calories, strengthens muscles and nourishes their overall fitness.
I know these things, because I LOVE To walk and have been doing walking workouts for over 20 years. For me, walking is not only good for my health and fitness, it is also a great way to relieve stress and think creatively. I’ve come up with some awesome ideas while striding down the path!
I also know that the way we approach and engage in our walk can make a big difference in how much benefit we get out of it.
Strolling is nice. I love to stroll down the beach with a cup of coffee and zone out as I watch the waves roll in. The people watching is pretty interesting, too. I love to be on the beach, it’s relaxing, and sure I get in the steps, but it’s not really a workout for me. That’s more like my fun time.
Instead, I know that these 10 simple walking tips for a more effective workout are very helpful for women over 50. If you commit to incorporating these easy suggestions, you’ll be stepping your way to a fitter self!
Make sure you are physically able to engage in any type of workout. Check with your physician before starting a new type of fitness routine.
Benefits of Brisk Walking and
Other Walking Tips
Get your mind right and commit to the workout
A walk for fitness is like anything else you do – if your heart isn’t in it, the results will be lacking.
Even if you’re not in the mood for a walk, you know it’s the right thing to do. So spend a few minutes in quiet time, meditate or just sit quietly. Take some deep breaths and put on your walkin’ shoes!
If you keep a calendar, is your workout time recorded on it? This is your time to spend caring for your body and it should be given high priority.
No one is going to get your body in shape, fit and strong, except you. As women over 50 (and the Over 60 Clubbers, like me) we absolutely must be committed to keeping our bodies strong and well tuned.
Don’t forget the warm up!
Be kind to your body and include a simple warm up before beginning your walking workout. You’ll feel better during, and after, your walk.
Not sure what to do for this warm up? No worries. I found the perfect, short walking warm up routine for you, video included if you’re a visual learner, so no excuses. Do these four quick exercises and you’ll be good to go: Walking Warm Up Exercises
I put a sticky note on my forehead to remind myself to do these warm ups because it’s such an essential walking tip. I am the worst at remembering this essential piece of the fitness puzzle.
Midlife comes at us with a vengeance, and a brisk walking workout is a very effective way to tick off the aerobic piece of the workout pie.
Walk before eating a meal
Walk before eating if you can, or have a light snack and wait for the bigger meal until after your workout. If I’m feeling a wee bit hungry before a fitness walk, I’ll have a few Triscuits with peanut butter to hold me over and give me energy while I workout.
If you walk a half hour or so before your meal, it decreases the amount of sugar and fats that accumulate in the blood after eating, particularly when your meal is high in protein or carbs.
That recent physical activity will also stimulate your metabolism to burn energy and calories.
How about walking after a meal? If you’ve consumed a large meal, wait about 45 minutes or so before your walking workout. Your body is trying to digest a large mass of food and if you walk vigorously as well, the blood supply may over extend itself. Your heart is forced to perform at twice its rate.
Need a Little Boost? How About a Quick Read?
Walk outside if possible, and vary the route
I'm partial to outdoor workouts and am not a fan of the gym, so my comments are not entirely objective. Weather and environment permitting, why stuff yourself indoors on a treadmill when the beautiful outdoors with fresh air is waiting for you?
My first winter back in Michigan after 13 years in Florida was brutal in this regard, so I had to be creative about getting in the daily steps. Now that the weather has turned I look forward to my daily walking workouts. They're a part of my fitness routine that I love!
It's helpful to keep motivated when your route is varied, so try to alternate where you go and in which direction. Have you noticed how completely different your walk looks when you go in the opposite direction? Try it and see.
Keep up the pace!
Your goal is to be walking at a brisk pace. What does this mean, exactly?
Brisk walking is not strolling, and it's a quicker pace than a moderate walk. You're not running or jogging, but there is an 'urgency' to your step. The benefits of brisk walking are many!
You can gauge if your walk is brisk enough by:
- the growing warmth and possible sweat you'll feel
- heavier breathing
- feeling your heart rate elevate
- you can talk if needed but not sing a song (I mean, would you really want to anyway!)
Benefits of Brisk Walking:
- Improves your circulation
- Strengthens your muscles
- May help you lose weight
- Supports your joints
- Might even help you sleep better 🙂
Pssst...want to do something about that belly fat? I've got a plan...
Stand up straight and keep your eyes looking ahead if possible
Don't put yourself at risk for falling, but make it a goal to look ahead rather than down.
I tend to be a sloucher, so try to remain aware of where my eyes are looking (not at my tootsies), with my shoulders back, tummy pulled in and abs contracted. For me, it helps to reinforce not only the correct posture but I'm working my ab muscles, too. Two-for-one benefit. 🙂
Avoid phone conversations
They'll turn your walking workout into a simple stroll without even realizing it. It's kind of like talking on the phone, hands free of course, while driving. You think you're paying attention to the road, but you're not 100% with it.
Same goes for your walking workouts. If you're on the phone, you're not really concentrating on the fitness routine. If you wouldn't have a phone in your ear while lifting weights, doing yoga, zumba, etc, why would you have that conversation while walking?
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for walking briskly
The last thing you want to do is cut your workout short because the pants are too tight, the shoes are killing your feet, the girls are bouncing too much or you wore the wrong socks.
These are just examples, but I think you know what I mean. Don't just run out the door without thinking about what you're wearing, and what is on your feet.
Are you wearing the right bra? How about the top and bottom of the outfit? Are you good to go? And, a good pair of walking shoes is a must!
Use a fitness or step tracker for accuracy of steps and time walked
Hint: your walk wasn't as far as you think.
I wasn't a good judge of distance when I first started walking. I thought I had walked so far because I was sweating and it seemed like, well, a long time. So I must have done a good job, right?
Not. It wasn't until I invested in a fitness tracker that I learned how long and at what pace I needed to walk in order to benefit my body.
Incorporate some higher intensity intervals into your walking workout
Make this decision based on your overall health and abilities. Or, go the full gambit and add HIIT, or high intensity interval training to your workout routine. That's a different conversation, but you can read more if you follow the link in the previous sentence.
I'm referring to actions such as:
- turning up the speed and the incline at periodic intervals if you're on a treadmill
- finding an outdoor walking route that includes some hills
- adding some step climbing to your workout. My current walking route includes a couple of hilly areas, but nothing too extreme. I add on some stair climbing at the end of my walk using the stairs in my home.
Bonus Tip: Backward Walking
Here's a bonus walking tip for you, in case you're open to a simple and unexpected way to make your walking routine more effective: walk backwards. Yep. Backwards.
Walking backwards activates a number of different muscles than walking forward, and has quite a few benefits. Of course, being confident of the path you are on, and what is upcoming, would be really important for your safety!
I've tried this indoors, in my home, for a couple of reasons. One, I know the route my little feet would be treading in reverse, and, it's just me and myself with no onlookers.
I have to admit I'm not ready to share my backwards walk with the neighborhood, not just yet. But I can see how the feet and other muscles are used differently, so that motion strengthens our feet and legs in a new way.
Read more about the benefits of a backward walking routine.
As women over 50 we need to nurture our health with attention to both fitness and nutrition. We're not living in 20 year old bodies anymore, not even close. But even so, we can look our best, feel great as we age and enjoy life to the fullest, if we're willing to put in the time and effort.
These 10 simple walking tips for a more effective workout are just one way for us to stay strong and fit as women in midlife. Most of us could think about how to walk more. So...where will you be walking today??
Grab your FREE Printable, 10 Simple Tips for a More Effective Walking Workout, right here, in the Resource Library!