How to Become a Fitness Walker for Life

Leslie Sansone
by Leslie Sansone
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How to Become a Fitness Walker for Life

If you just completed our 30-Day Walking Challenge, congratulations. You did it—we did it (I walked too)! So, tell me: Are you slimmer, trimmer, stronger? I’m sure you’ve noticed (or measured) real changes to your body. Even more importantly, don’t you just feel better deep in your soul? You know you’ve just done something good for your health, and that’s the power of walking.

There’s so much research that tells us fitness walking is one of the all-time best choices for a lifetime of healthy rewards. By now, you should have the adapted the habit. You’ve made the time, you fit it in and, most of all, I hope you’ve learned that no matter how big the walk, it always benefits your mind, body and soul. You can do short walks (500 steps), and you can do long walks (6,000 steps). You are always improving your health if you just keep on walkin’! And did you notice that you are even more motivated to eat healthy when you walk more? That’s SO big!

Keep the momentum going after the challenge is complete—don’t stop now. Learn how to step things up after the challenge has ended, or how to remain a motivated fitness walker even if you didn’t take the 30-day challenge (see tips below).

If your goal has been, and continues to be, weight loss, you can expect an even faster result in the next 30 days. A great way to continue the walk plan: Move to the next level.

If you started our 30-day plan as a beginner, you are NOT a beginner anymore. Start the next 30 days following the intermediate plan. If you started at the intermediate level, take the big challenge and start the next 30 days following the advanced plan.

Advanced walkers are usually so immersed in an active lifestyle they could write their own plans, author their own books, produce their own video workouts, even host their own TV shows. You get the message. They don’t need me, I need them!

But wait, advanced walkers, let me add that you can always up the burn or increase intensity, time or frequency of your walks to get to an even more advanced fitness level.

Here are easy tips to incorporate into two or three walks per week, no matter what fitness level you are:

1. Add climbs: On the treadmill, just set the incline to 5% for a moderate climb up to 10% for a steep climb. Try 100 steps at the 5% incline, or do 50 steps at the 10% incline and you will feel how potent a climb is. It also kicks in more back-end muscles. It’s great for firming and lifting that muscle group. Do the 100 (or 50) steps with incline three times spread out through your workout.

For climbing outdoors: Look for routes that have hills or roads that incline slightly. The more variety from your original route, the better. Look for outdoor steps at a stadium or park. Walk up and down three times, then continue on your route.

2. Add speed: Try 20 to 50 steps at a “gentle jog” pace after each five minutes of walking. It is such an easy way to increase your endurance (fitness) and burn, burn, burn those calories.

After any structured plan that lasts 4-12 weeks, the next step is always to shake it up. Change routes. Speed up the pace. Try a treadmill if you have been walking outdoors only. Hey, I know some great walking DVDs that just might be the variety you are looking for … “wink” and smile.

I promise you this: You are ready to get out into the community, have some healthy fun and even help others. Why not register for the next 5K (3.1 miles) walk or walk/run in your community? Or even a 10K (6.2 miles)? Or yes, you can do it, a half-marathon walk? You have built a strong foundation in only 30 days. I am so proud of all of you who walked this walk!

tone every zone leslie sansone video

3. Try something new, like my newest DVD that’s coming out June 2, 2015: “The Tone Every Zone Walk” is made up of three 20-minute walks. The first walk will tone your upper body, the second your lower body and the third is a pure cardio, fast-paced walk.

And finally, just settle in to your new active life, and I am sure that the rest of your life will be the best of your life. Happy walking, MyFitnessPal friends!

Did you complete the challenge, and want to celebrate your accomplishments with other MyFitnessPal members? Join our group forum to talk about your experiences, ask your questions, discuss your plan for continuing your fitness journey, or (virtually) high-five a fellow MFPer!

About the Author

Leslie Sansone
Leslie Sansone

Leslie Sansone is America’s number-one walk expert and creator of the Walk at Home program. She believes that our bodies were made to move, and we can walk our way to health and wellness. She contributes her time, expertise and financial support to health organizations including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetic Association and Muscular Dystrophy Association. She was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in 2014.

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