Having just returned from spending twelve exhilarating days with a day-pack on my back exploring Northumberland and the Highlands of Scotland for my honeymoon, I am brimming with enthusiasm for the many benefits of what has become referred to as “Weighted Walking”.
I should start by emphasizing that my recent foray into this arena involved more intense exposure than I would recommend to anyone looking at trying ‘Weighted Walking’ for the first time. (As with any physical activity, it’s best to get some assurance from your doctor as to what is safe for you to try.)
Begin slowly and carefully and build up within your own limitations. Go straight for a 10 mile hill walk with a 60lb army load on your back and you’ll not get far!
But including this controlled enhancement of walking as part of your lifestyle change, alongside your strength training with me in the gym or your home-based sessions, is an effective way of augmenting your exercise routine and adding variety. Not to mention harnessing the benefits of activity in the fresh air!
By now you will have gathered that ‘Weighted Walking’ is simply walking while carrying some additional weight to increase resistance and provide some low-impact physical activity, with a little higher-intensity than comes with a ‘normal’ (unweighted) walk. The extra weight can be anything from a pair of water bottles or wrist weights to a fully-loaded rucksack but remember, the weight must be distributed evenly to avoid any risk of imbalance or uneven stress on your joints or muscles. AND only work within your own capabilities – don’t push it too far. Probably best to start with a couple of weights of 2 to 3lbs each, but you could start with less if you feel more comfortable with that. It doesn’t take much to start feeling it!
It’s important that you don’t alter your method of walking to accommodate the extra weight. For example, avoid changing your posture such as hunching your shoulders or leaning forward because this can lead to long-term injury. Try to keep your normal walking ‘shape’, and adjust your backpack to sit properly on your back.
If you can give ‘Weighted Walking’ a try you’ll find that the combination of strength and cardiovascular exercise will contribute to improvements in your balance, tone your muscles and increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
There is an interesting article in the September issue of Good Housekeeping about ‘Weighted Walking’ and several online publications provide more information.
In my opinion ‘Weighted Walking’, if used properly, can add variety to a fitness plan, maybe on the days you’re not working out with me, or when your are on holiday!