How often should I walk? Should I focus on miles or minutes?
The "FITT" Principles will help you design a safe and effective cardio (aerobic) exercise program, whether you walk for exercise or do something else.
Frequency: Number of Days Per Week Aim for a minimum of 3 days a week, and gradually work your way up to 5 or 6 days a week. The more the better--especially when it comes to weight loss. But don't forget the importance of rest and recovery. Give yourself at least 1-2 days off each week.
Intensity: How Hard To Exercise You can use your target heart rate range or the "Talk Test" to make sure you're working out in a good range (not too easy, not too hard). If you can comfortably answer a question during exercise, while still feeling like youíre exerting yourself, youíre in a good calorie-burning range. This range is ideal for the general health benefits that come with exercise, and for weight loss.
Time: How Long For Each Cardio Session The recommended time for most people ranges from a minimum of 20 minutes (for simple general health), all the way up to about 60 minutes. Of course, itís smart to work your way up gradually. The further you go over 20 minutes, the more fat you are burning, so that can be a good motivator.
Type: Activities That Count Any activity can count as cardio/aerobic exercise as long as it meets the 3 requirements above--you can sustain a target heart rate intensity for at least 20-60 minutes, and do it several times a week. Walking, of course, meets those requirements.
Things to keep in mind: 1. Time can be cumulative: You don't have to do 60 minutes all at once. You can do several 5-10 minute mini-workouts each day and add them up. 2. If you can't reach your target heart rate with walking, then add intensity by increasing speed or incline.
Written by Nicole Nichols, Certified Fitness Instructor
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