walking faq part five



Why do my hands swell up when I walk?



Stephanie M.

Dear Stephanie, The simple act of swinging your arms pushes more blood into your hands and may make them swell. It happens to just about everybody when they're exercising!
Leave rings at home when you go for a walk, or they may become uncomfortably snug. If you bend your arms at the elbow, using racewalk techniques, you may find that your hands swell less.

Another option is to carry a small rubber ball in each hand and squeeze them gently to keep the blood from pooling in your hands. However, if swollen hands don't bother you, ignore them! It's perfectly normal.


Should I eat before or after I walk in the morning?
Benjamin Hill

Dear Benjamin,

This is really a matter of individual preference. If you eat a fairly light breakfast, it won't matter much either way. Some people wouldn't think of leaving the house without at least a piece of fruit or glass of juice. Others can walk for an hour and then come back for breakfast. Of course, don't try to do any intense workout on a full stomach. One thing is certain: Drink a full glass of water before you head out. You've been sleeping a long time and you're probably a little dehydrated. If it's hot, take a bottle along with you and sip every 15 minutes.



How do I know I'm getting a decent workout from walking?

Dear Brianna,

Leisurely walking is great for stress reduction, but it won't do much to boost your calorie burn or improve your heart health. To get a good workout, your walk should be brisk -- but not so brisk that you tire fast and head for home. Here's a great way to monitor yourself: You should be able to carry on a conversation without gasping, but it should take a little effort to talk. (That is, you shouldn't feel like you're sitting on a chaise lounge yakking on the phone.) If you're gasping, just slow down a little. But if you feel like you could sing an aria without missing a beat, pick up your pace a bit.

You don't need to sweat buckets, but if you find some sweat beginning to bead on your forehead or your upper lip, you're probably cruising at a perfect pace. Most of all, trust your instincts. If you're just starting out and you are very overweight, or have any health problems, go as slow as you need to to feel comfortable. (Note: You should check with your doctor before you begin any fitness regimen.) You'll gain speed as you get in better shape, day by day.



How many times per week should I walk for healthy weight loss?

Dear Christine,

As many as you can! Seriously, Christine, it won't harm you to walk every day as long as you're not pushing yourself too hard during your walks. That way, if you plan to walk every day and you miss one here and there, you still end up walking four or five days a week.

The question of how often is less important than how long or how fast. This is where your particular fitness level comes into play. If you've been very sedentary or are more than 30 to 40 pounds overweight, you may need to start out slowly and in small increments.
Try walking ten minutes in the morning, ten in the afternoon and ten after dinner. Keep a gentle pace and allow your body to tell you when its time to go a little faster. You're going too fast if you can't carry on a conversation without gasping. Slow down. The important thing, in the long run, is that you want to be walking a year from now -- even two years from now -- because you enjoy it. Going all out and getting sore shins, buns or feet will only defeat you in the long run. Taking it easy and building your endurance slowly is key. Often, the faster you try to go in the beginning, the longer it takes you to reach your goal (because you get hurt, quit or just plain burn out).
Until you become adapted to walking and very comfortable with a brisk pace -- 17- to 15-minute miles -- don't concern yourself with special techniques other than walking tall.
If weight-loss is your goal, try to add more veggies and fruits to your diet -- and plenty of water -- to help peel off pounds. And remember: Some people drop weight like a melting popsicle; others may have to wait for months before they see a difference. Don't rely on your scale. Assess how your clothes fit to check your progress. The scale can be misleading as you build muscle.