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How to Start Walking When You're Overweight

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 2/26/2009

It can be a daunting task to get started on a fitness program when you're overweight. Walking for weight loss is the easiest way to get healthier and lose weight. Aside from a good walking shoe, you don't need any equipment. Just get up and walk out that door, and you'll be burning calories today.

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    Walking, A Great Place to Start

    Even if you are overweight, walking is a great way to get fit. After all, you won't need to learn any new skills. You already know how to walk. Walking is a great way to boost your weight loss efforts, burning around 100 calories per mile, depending on weight and speed Check out this walking calories calculator to fill in your specific weight here. Now, lets get started walking!

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    First Things First

    Talk to your doctor before you begin any fitness program. You'll want to make sure you are healthy enough to begin walking before you start. If you're significantly overweight, your doctor may ask you to come in for some tests before he gives you the go ahead. Do as your doctor requests before you get started.

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    The Right Gear

    The great thing about walking is that it doesn't require much equipment to get started. The most important thing you'll need is a good walking shoe. You can buy shoes especially designed for fitness walking at any sporting goods store. Be sure to try the shoe on and walk around in it before you make a purchase. It should be comfortable right from the start. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a specific name brand, but you do want to get a good shoe that feels comfortable when you walk in it. Remember, you'll be taking a lot of steps in these shoes.

    Shoes are the main piece of gear you need to start walking, but comfortable clothing that's right for the weather is essential too. If it's chilly outside, layer a fleece sweatshirt over a t-shirt and sweat pants for a comfortable workout. If you get hot, you can remove the fleece and still be comfortable.

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    Start Slow!

    Since you're new to exercise, you'll want to start out slow. It's not a competition. Congratulate yourself for making the commitment to get fit. Now take it easy, especially in the beginning. Find a place to walk. This most convenient place is right outside your door. If you live in a neighborhood that's ideal for walking, you can begin here. If not, you'll need to be a little more creative. You can walk at the mall, a nearby park, or even at a local high school track. There are plenty of places to walk, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.

    On the first day, you'll simply walk 10 minutes in one direction and 10 minutes back. If you are already becoming fatigued before you reach the first 10 minutes, go ahead and turn around sooner. Ten minutes is just a place start. Walk slow and steady. Don't worry about walking fast at this point, just head out for a leisurely walk. If 10 minutes is easy for you, increase by 5 minutes each day. Increase your time by 5 minute increments until you are walking at least 30 minutes at a time. Do this at least 5 days a week.

    Once you're accustomed to walking 30 minutes, 5 days a week, you can start to increase the pace a little. Keeping the same amount of walking time, walk a little faster each day. Adjust your speed so that you are breathing a little fast, but you can still maintain a conversation. If you find yourself gasping for air, you are working too hard. Reduce your speed until you are breathing a bit easier.

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    Warm Ups and Cool Downs

    Don't forget to warm up with a slow pace. Increase your intensity only after your muscles feel warm and loose. After your workout, be sure to do a few simple stretches to minimize soreness.

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    Resources

    1. The Walking Site: http://www.thewalkingsite.com/beginner.html

    2. Prevent Disease- Walking Calculator: http://preventdisease.com/healthtools/articles/while_walking.html