Walking is a great way to become active–results range from improvements in the cardiovascular system to weight loss or simply an improvement in mood. To get the most from your workout, consider adding one or more of the three pieces of gear outlined below. You’ll be on the path to great health in no time at all!
1. Ankle Weights
Many people carry hand weights on their daily walk as a way to increase caloric expenditure–and while this will results in a more challenging workout, it can also lead to complications including shoulder and wrist strain. If you want to safely increase the intensity of your walking routine, ankle weights may be the perfect piece of gear for you. These pieces of equipment can be easily strapped around the ankle, and typically come in weights ranging from one pound up to ten pounds. Properly using ankle weights will make your walk more difficult without any added strain on shoulder or wrist joints. Look for them at home improvement or sporting goods stores.
2. Heart Rate Monitor
Heart rate monitors are another great piece of gear that will enhance your walking routine. Heart rate monitors consist of a watch, with a digital display that records the amount of time spent exercising, an estimate of how many calories have been burned, and a record of both your current and past heart rates during the exercise session. While some heart rate monitors can actually pick up your rate through the watch alone, styles that come with a separate chest strap–that is a thin, plastic band that fits around the upper part of your rib cage–have been found to be more accurate. Heart rate monitors are especially beneficial for individuals who are participating in heart rate training, a technique that dictates how intense the exercise session should be depending on a previously prescribed heart rate zone. Say that you are supposed to be exercising with an average heart rate of 100, and your monitor tells you that your current rate is only 90. You can increase either your pace or the incline at which you are walking at to get to the appropriate heart rate zone. Without this piece of equipment, you would not realize that you need to increase the intensity of your workout.
Pedometers are a handy piece of walking equipment that are simple to use and relatively inexpensive to purchase. Pedometers work by measuring the average distance of your stride, and then use this to determine the total distance walked. Some higher quality pedometers are also able to give an average of the total calories burned. Pedometers are good tools both for people who are trying to lose weight, as well as for people who simply are trying to get more activity into their day, and want to keep a record of the total distance walked. Pedometers range in price from around $5 up to $30, and can typically be found at most sporting goods or outdoor specialty shops.