The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.
~ Ivy Baker ~
as an absolute beginner, you
may be feeling fearful about starting a walking routine although you know in your mind that it's the right thing for you to
do for yourself! You've read about it, you've thought about it, you've projected your wishful thinking about it, you've equipped
yourself with the tools you will need to be a walker and still, in the pit of your stomach, you are fearful.
maybe you're not sure what you are feeling fearful about...
it might be that you are fearful of failing...
it might be that you are fearful of success...
either way... you have already set yourself up for failing if you are
allowing your fear to stand in your way ....
take each moment as it comes...
avoid having expectations....
listen only to your heart, that holds your deepest true desires...
with self affirmations (see counseling page)
study about what it mean to make a sincere committment to yourself...
when you feel the fear, practice relaxation breathing (see the relaxation breathing page)
if you need validation of your emotions & feelings, write it all out on an e-mail & send it to me by clicking here... i want to help you with this... i do understand how that feels & i will encourage & validate
How to Walk for Absolute Beginners
Congratulations, you have decided it is time to start walking for health, fitness & perhaps weight
Walking is a great, natural way to achieve daily
We will lead you through a program for absolute
beginners, w/the goal to have you walking comfortably for 30 minutes to an hour, the level recommended to help prevent:
- heart disease
- type II diabetes
- colon cancer
We will begin with how to Prepare for walking.
You will learn a good walking Technique. Last, we
will discuss a Schedule - how often to walk, how fast & how far to build up to the 30-60 minutes a day level.
We begin by getting you ready to head out the door
- or onto the treadmill. All of the advice included is good for walking either indoors or outdoors.
To begin, we'll see if your body has any special
needs before starting an exercise program. Then it's on to gear-up w/clothing & shoes.
How to Walk - Check-up
Contact your medical provider for a check-up or consultation before you begin your walking program if
any of these apply:
- Sedentary for a year or more.
- You don't currently exercise &
are over age 65.
- You have been diagnosed w/heart trouble.
- High blood pressure.
- You have chest pain, especially when
- You often feel faint or have severe
- Other medical conditions.
Walking Clothing Advice for Beginners
Your walking clothing should be comfortable &
loose-fitting to allow you to move.
- Depending on your climate, dress
in layers so you may remove a layer as you warm up while walking & put it back on if you feel cool.
- If you do not plan to walk up a sweat,
a system can be as simple as a t-shirt, light sweater & windproof jacket.
- If you sweat while walking, you should
invest in CoolMax or polypropylene shirts to wick the sweat away from the body.
- In cooler climates you may want an
insulating layer of polar fleece or wool.
- Socks should be comfortable &
the modern running socks made from CoolMax or other high-tech fibers are preferable to cotton, as they prevent blisters by
keeping the feet drier.
- A hat is essential to preventing
sun exposure or keeping you from losing heat.
- Sunglasses for outdoor walking prevent
UV exposure for your eyes.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Carry keys & other articles in
pockets or a hip pack. Pack lightly for most walks & leave the heavy purse at home.
- Carry water if you plan to be walking
for a half hour or more w/no water on your route. A hip pack w/built-in water bottle holder is convenient.
Your shoes are your chief walking tool.
- Fit: Your shoes must fit well,
but leave enough room so your feet can expand while walking. Your walking shoes should be a size to a size & a half larger than your dress shoe.
- Flex: Good walking shoes are flexible,
as your foot rolls through each step.
- See if your shoe bends in the ball
of the foot & if you can twist it from side to side. If it is stiff as a board, you need different shoes.
- Flat: Walking shoes should be flat, w/little difference in height between the heel & the
ball of the foot.
- A well-fit pair of running shoes
is the best answer for most walkers. Many specialty walking shoes are too stiff & don't incorporate performance characteristics
of today's running shoes to prevent overpronation.
- Replace your shoes every 500 miles.
This section will get you putting one foot in front of the other.
Walking technique for the street, track, or treadmill is the same. You want to
walk w/good posture, using arm & foot motion that will propel you forward w/good power & no wasted effort.
How you hold your body is very important to
walking comfortably & easily. With good posture you'll
be able to breathe easier & you'll avoid back pain.
- Stand up straight.
- Think of being a tall & straight,
don't arch your back.
- Do not lean forward or lean back.
Leaning puts strain on the back muscles.
- Eyes forward, not looking down but
rather 20 feet ahead.
- Chin up (parallel to
the ground). This reduces strain on neck & back.
- Shrug once and let your shoulders
fall & relax, your shoulders slightly back.
- Suck in your stomach
- Tuck in your behind - rotate your
hip forward slightly. This will keep you from arching your back.
Arm motion can lend power to your walking, burning 5-10% more calories & acting as a balance to your leg
- Bend your elbow 90 degrees.
- Hands should be loose in a partially
closed curl, never clenched.
- Clenching your fists can raise your blood pressure & should be avoided.
- With each step, the arm opposite your
forward foot comes straight forward, not diagonally.
- As the foot goes back, the opposite
arm comes straight back.
- Keep your elbows close to your body
- don't "chicken wing."
- Your forward hand should not cross
the center point of your body.
- Your hand when coming forward should
be kept low, not higher than your breastbone.
- Many poor examples of arm motion are
seen w/walkers pumping their arms up high in the air, this doesn't help propel you.
- If at first you find adding arm motion
tiring, do it for 5 to 10 minutes at a time & then let your arms rest.
The walking step is a rolling motion.
- Strike the ground first w/your heel.
- Roll through the step from heel to
- Push off w/your toe.
- Bring the back leg forward to strike
again w/the heel.
- Flexible shoes will ensure you are
able to roll through the step.
- If your feet are slapping down rather
than rolling through, your shoes are likely too stiff.
- At first, your
shin muscles may tire & be sore until they are strengthened.
Avoid over-striding - taking longer steps to increase speed. This is potentially harmful & is inefficient.
Take more, smaller steps rather than lengthening
your stride. Your forward leg has no power, while your back leg is what is driving you forward. Getting the full power
out of the push from the back leg as it rolls from heel to toe is the key to powerful, efficient walking.
Your stride should be longer behind your body, where your toe is pushing off, rather than out in front of
I remember thinking as a first grader that
sitting up straight was somehow an important thing
for me to be doing. At the time, it was primarily a matter of what I thought the teacher expected of us kids.
But now, after practicing Aikido Kokikai for
a number of years, I've realized that correct posture
is far more important than it seemed back in grade school, when I sat in my little wooden chair with my back
straight and my chest out. (Until, after a few minutes, I got sick of it and went back to slumping.)
We've all heard that the mind leads the body. This is an important realization; that by changing what you believe, you can actually change what your body is capable of doing.
But to bring things around full circle,
it's critical to understand that the body leads the mind, too.
Stand up straight, walk tall, and you will actually think
and feel better.
But actually, it goes a lot further than that.
The fact of the matter is, when your posture is correct (and we'll talk about what we mean by "correct" in a moment), you
are already doing a good job at that strange, mysterious, and elusive ki principle of keeping One-Point. (click on the left underlined link to
see a quick time picture by the author illustrating in a pictorial One-Point.)
Of the 4 principles in Aikido Kokikai, one-point
is the one that is most likely to seem mysterious. After all, we tell people that -
if you concentrate your mind on this elusive place, you will be able to coordinate your mind & body
& find your strongest state.
How could there not be some kind of mystery
to such a special place? How could one- point not be hard to find?
The truth is, you've probably "found" one-point many times before in your life. It's
just that nobody called it "one-point" at the time.
For whatever reason, you were doing something
that you felt particularly happy & comfortable doing. You were calm, relaxed, & positive. You were keeping one-point.
You see, one-point is not an invention of
Aikido. It was a discovery made by Aikido practitioners. Now, Aikido (& it's related exercises) may very
well be the best way to discover one-point & reinforce it's feeling.
But one-point is not owned by Aikido. It is
just a natural part of being a human being. So now we'll give away the secret & tell you just where one-point is located:
It's about 2" below your navel, within your lower abdomen. (Wasn't nearly as mysterious
as you had hoped, was it?) This is your body's center of balance. The most powerful motions of the body originate here.
And the calmest minds are concentrated here.
It's hard to say exactly why this this is
the best place to concentrate your mind. But w/a few minutes, & a friend to help out, you can see for yourself that one-point
Stand w/your feet side by side, about shoulder
width apart. Have your friend stand just to your side. Now think about the top of your head. Touch it w/your hand, if that
helps to concentrate your mind there.
Have your friend place one hand just below
your collar bone & gently push toward your spine. Keep concentrating on your head.
Do you feel balanced?
Or do you start to tip over?
Now stand the same way again. Only this time,
place one finger on your lower abdomen, about 2" below your navel. Think about the place that you are touching. Have your
friend push you again, gently, in the same manner as before. Keep concentrating on the place you are touching.
Do you feel more stable?
Try both ways a few times. You'll find that
when you keep one-point, you are harder to move. That's the physical result. But you may also notice that you feel different
when you keep one-point.
You feel more comfortable & calm, although
fully aware. You may not notice it, but your face will look more relaxed & serene. You are finding a more dependable state.
That's a fascinating thing about one-point.
By concentrating the mind there, you become
more stable both physically & mentally. And when someone tests you - as when you just had your friend press on your collar
bone - it tells something about you mentally by the way you react physically.
This really comes in handy. Because we can't
see your mind! But now we know that we can test your mind by testing your body. And this is a great way to learn about one-
point & your overall mind/body state.
When someone tests you in this way, we call
it a ki test. Several of these ki tests are demonstrated in the Cool Ki Tricks section of this site. But since these ideas
are so important to your understanding of one-point, we'll talk about a couple more of them here.
Stand, once again, w/your feet side by side,
about shoulder width apart. Concentrate your mind on one-point (don't tense up your abdomen though). Have your friend once
again gently test you by touching just below your collar bone & pushing toward your spine.
Now, raise your hands up over your head, as
though someone had just yelled "Stick 'em up!" Have your friend test you again. A little less stable? Most people are, because
as they raise their hands, they raise one-point, too. Try doing it again, only this time feel as though your one-point goes
down while your arms go up.
There are plenty of way to test for the one-point
feeling. Put one foot forward & then bend over as if you are going to tie your shoe. Have your friend push forward on
your lower back. Or, bend backward & reach up as though you were changing a light bulb & have your friend test on
your collar bone.
Each time, experiment w/concentrating somewhere
else, too, say the top of your head, your feet, or even on a point in front or behind you. The point of all this is to find
out how you feel when you "pass the test", that is, when you don't move as you are being tested.
When you don't move, it suggests you are doing
a pretty good job of keeping one-point. Does it feel a little different? A little calmer, more comfortable, a little less
like striving? With ki testing, you can become very familiar w/the feeling of one-point. You will be able to return to this
state at will.
It will become a natural part of your life.
I remember when I first graduated from college & got my first real job. For the first time in my life, I had to get up
early on a regular basis. And it felt horrible.
I recall thinking, "Am I going to feel this
lousy every morning for the rest of my life?" When I started practicing Aikido, I was happy to find that at least there was
a way to feel better. If I got up in the morning & did ki exercises & caught that pleasant one-point feeling, pretty
soon, I felt pretty good .
And now, after a number of years of practice,
I wake up & that pleasant feeling is right there waiting for me. It has become a natural part of my life. There are some
other methods that I have found very effective at helping me to catch a one-point feeling.
Rolls are one of them. You can learn more
about forward & backwards rolls in the Ki Exercises section. But basically, they are a lot like doing a kid's somersault.
And if you do enough of them, they make you dizzy.
Now, if you're fortunate enough to have a
big space w/a soft surface, do several rolls - enough to make you feel a little dizzy - & then stand up. Feel like you're
going to fall over, or at least stumble?
Try keeping one-point. The world will still
be spinning, but you'll feel more stable. It's like the whole universe is spinning around your one-point. (Cool feeling, I
think.) Exercises like this are great because they give you feedback on your feeling of one-point.
Before, we got feedback by having a friend
test you. Did you move, or not? That was your feedback. And it told you a lot about your physical & mental state. Now
your feedback is, did you fall over, or not? Still excellent feedback, only now, you can do it on your own.
You can experience the same feeling w/out
rolling around on the ground. Just put your arms out to your sides (horizontal) & spin around & around in place. Keep
one-point after you stop & you'll still feel very stable. I practice this same idea when I give my kids airplane rides
outside (spinning them round & round in the air while holding under their arms). The plane rides last longer, now that
Daddy knows a little bit about one-point.
So experiment w/your friends to catch a feeling
of one-point. (Don't just read about it - that will do you no good!) Try catching that feeling when you first wake up in the
morning. Try finding one-point a few times during the day. And don't get frustrated if you find it's sometimes elusive.
The challenge you face in undertanding one-point
is what will make it a strong, resilient & enduring part of your life.
Now isn't that cool? Having correct posture actually helps you to be calmer, more relaxed, more physically & mentally
stable. Hard to believe maybe. But you can actually put this to the test.
We said elsewhere in this site that when you
are keeping one-point, your body is more stable. We showed that if someone gently pushed your body when you were keeping one-point,
you were less likely to lose your balance.
So let's test you for one-point, without even
thinking about one-point. We'll only think about having correct posture.
Stand up, feet side by side, weight on your
heels, shoulders kind of slumped. Have someone touch just below your collar bone & gently push toward your spine. Pretty
Now stand again w/your feet side by side. Only
this time, put your weight on the balls of your feet, so your heels just lightly touch the floor. Push your chest out slightly.
Hold you head upright & look straight forward.
Lean ever so slightly forward from your hips.
Then have your friend test you again in the same manner. Any better?
Chances are, you were more stable the second
time around. In fact, you probably tested about as well as you would have had you been thinking about keeping one- point.
Well, that's because when your posture is correct, you are naturally keeping one-point. Neat, huh?
Now all of that was just to show you the importance
of correct posture. It isn't about improving the way you look (although it does), or some strange kind of self- discipline.
It's about helping you find a better mind/body state. Finding
correct posture actually feels good.
So lets talk about what's correct for a few
different postures. And then we'll show you what's correct with our cool Shockwave and Quicktime VR movies. (If you
haven't got the Shockwave or Quicktime plug-ins, now would be a good time to download them.)
Okay. So how about just standing? I can't tell
you how many people I see standing around that I know would feel so much better if they just changed their posture slightly.
(And this really is about feeling better.) So here's what to do.
Natural Stance Instructions
- Stand w/your feet side by side, about shoulder
- Raise up on the balls of your feet.
- Now gradually lower your heels until they just
barely touch the floor.
- Push your sternum out slightly.
- Tuck your chin in a little.
- And, this is going to feel a little weird,
lean forward ever so slightly from your hips.
(Roll your cursor over the photo at the
left for a few additional tips.)
There. Now you should feel completely stiff
& unnatural. Which, of course, is not our goal. But the point is to help your body feel something a little different.
Maybe even go a little too far in our adjustments. Then you can gradually make changes & find what is truly correct for
One way to make those changes is ki testing
- having someone gently push your body from various angles to see if you remain stable. And we said gently! Here's how to
have your friend push:
Tests for Natural Stance
- Touch just below the collor bone & gently
press toward the spine.
- Touch the lower back & push directly forward.
- Hold an ankle & lift up.
- Grasp a wrist & lift directly up toward
If you move a little, make a slight adjustment
to your posture then have your friend test you again. Don't try to resist her push! This is just to find out something about
your current posture. If you fall over, fine. Change something & try again. But test in a spirit of cooperation.
If you feel frustrated by the tests, then tell your friend not to push so hard.
|remember to get the okay from your doctor
|before starting any new exercise or diet routine!
Your walking shoes should be a size
to a size & a half larger than your dress shoe.
Stretching will add flexibility and can make your
walking more comfortable.
Warm up for 5 minutes at an easy walking pace before
stretching, never stretch cold muscles or you risk tearing them. Incorporate mobility exercises designed to take a muscle
& joint through its range of motion.
You will start at the top of your body & work
your way down.
Find an upright pole or fence or wall that will
support you for leaning into on some stretches.
With good posture you'll be able
to breathe easier & you'll avoid back pain.
Arm motion can lend power to your walking, burning 5-10% more calories & acting as a balance to your leg
The walking step is a rolling
What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that
it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is
fully determined not to quit until he finds it.
~ Alexander Graham Bell
Fast walkers train themselves to increase the number
of steps they take per second and to get full use out of the back part of the stride.
Above: The stick walker on the left is over-striding,
on the right is better. Start out at a slow,
easy pace for each walking session.
Allow your muscles to warm up before you stretch, add speed or hills. Warm up for
5 minutes at this easy pace.
Avoid over-striding - taking longer steps to increase speed. This is potentially harmful & is inefficient.
don't forget to warm up....
warm up doesn't just include warming your body up for exercise...
it also includes setting your thought processes straight
for exercise.... read more about this below!
Stretches & Mobility Exercises for Walkers
Head Circles: Make 1/4 circles w/your head.
Start w/your ear near your shoulder on one
site, rotate your head around to the front, ending w/your ear near the shoulder on the other side.
Roll your head back to the other side. Repeat
Arm Circles: With one arm at a time, make backwards arm circle w/your palm facing out, thumb pointed
Repeat 10-15 w/each arm.
Then make forward arm circles w/palm facing
in, thumb pointed down, repeat 10-15 times.
Hip Stretch: Stand up, take a half-step back w/the right foot.
Bend your left knee & shift your weight back to your right hip.
While keeping the right leg straight, bend forward more & reach further down your right
Hold for 15-30 seconds. Switch sides.
Quadiceps Stretch: Stand erect, holding
onto a wall for support.
Bend your knee behind you so that you
can grasp your foot, holding your heel against your butt.
Stand up straight
& push your knee gently back as far as you can, the hand just keeps the heel in place. (For some,
it is more comfortable to use the hand from the opposite side).
Hold for 15-30 seconds, then switch.
Calf Stretch: Stand an arm's-length from the wall/post.
Lean into wall/post, bracing yourself w/your arms.
Place one leg forward w/knee bent - this leg
will have no weight put on it.
Keep other leg back w/knee straight & heel down.
Keeping back straight, move hips toward wall until you feel a stretch.
Hold 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat w/other leg.
Achilles Stretch: From the calf stretch position, bend the back knee so that the angle is changed to
stretch the Achilles tendon. Keep your heel down, hold 15-30 seconds. Then switch legs.
remember to take this slowly and move
smoothly in a non=jerking motion!
Leg Extensions: Facing the pole, hold on w/both hands. Bending at the knee, bring one leg forward, then
extend & swing that leg back & behind.
Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs.
Be cautious of hyperextending your lower back.
(using slow & smooth movements during your warm
up instead of fast & jerky movements is being cautious about hurting yourself right from the beginning.... you are
warming up now, not running a marathon!
keep your thoughts in perspective during the warm up
& remind yourself to be kind to your muscles through slow & smooth movements that will help your body get ready for
your walking routine!)
Cross Over Leg Swings: Holding onto the pole or fence rail w/both hands, face forward.
Swing one leg in front of your body gradually
Swing about 10-15 times w/each leg.
After stretching & mobility exercises, now you're ready to walk the main portion of your walk at your desired
Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would
but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything
we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty,
joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.
~ Henry Miller ~
For the final 5-10 minutes of your walk, finish w/an easy walking pace.
At the end of your walk you may want to repeat
the stretches you did after your warm-up as a "cool down."
The Absolute Beginner Schedule
Health goals: Walking a 1/2 hour a day (30 minutes) or 3 hours per week is associated
w/a decreased risk of heart disease.
How to Walk - How Fast to Walk
The health benefits of walking begin at the 20-minute
mile speed & a target heart rate of 50-60% of your maximum heart rate.
Walk at a determined pace
- may be breathing noticeably
- able to carry on a full conversation while walking
- not out of breath
Talk Test demonstration in RealAudio
If your speed is slower than a 20-minute mile, your first goal is to be able to walk 30-60 minutes a day without injury.
We will add speed & intensity later. Be consistent in your walking before you try to walk faster.
The target heart rate to achieve for health walking is 50 - 60% of your maximum heart rate. Again, if this is difficult
at first, go slower & build your time before working on speed.
Use this calculator to determine your heart rate
in whatever heart rate zone you desire for your workouts.
(to be added soon.) click here to view the interactive calculator at about.com
If at any time during the walk you are experiencing
difficulty, slow down further & return to your starting point.
Be aware of warning symptoms of problems such as heart attack or stroke & seek medical assistance
Stop walking & seek immediate
care if you have any of these:
- Tightness in your chest & possibly extending
into your left arm or neck.
- Chest pain or pain in your arms or jaw, often
on the left side
- Wheezing, coughing, or other difficulty in
- Severe shortness of breath
- Dizziness, faintness or feeling sick to your
- Excessive perspiration
- Cramps, severe pain or muscle aches
- Severe, prolonged fatigue or exhaustion after
Seconds count when you are having
a heart attack.
- Immediately call 911 or the other emegency
number for your area to bring an ambulance w/a defibrillator.
It is recommended that you increase
your exercise time/intensity by no more than 10% per week.
Swiftly getting a unit to you is the single most important
factor in surviving the heart attack. Seconds count.
- AED (automatic external defibrillator): These
are simple portable defibrillators w/simple instructions on the unit which anyone may use.
- Programs are underway to stock them in all
- Many malls & fast food restaurants, as
well as police & fire units will have them.
- Current Red Cross CPR classes will cover how
to use them.
- If your distress happens in or near a mall,
have someone ask for the AED.
Does it happen? Yes, in 1999 I was at 2 walking
events where friends had heart attacks. These shocking events are a reminder to all of us to be trained in CPR & to know
where the nearest phone is to call 911.
- Summon help from those around you. Better to
risk embarrassment than to die.
Normal signs of exertion
- Increased heart rate, you may feel or hear
your heart beat.
- Increased breathing rate, but should be able
to carry on a conversation.
- Mild to moderate sweating.
- Muscle aches & tenderness that might last
a day or two as you get started.
Recording your walks is the best way to maintain a walking
Webwalking USA Walking Program
Chart Your Walking from Coast to Coast
Go webwalking - chart your walking minutes, miles,
or steps on a virtual walk across the USA on the American Discovery Trail.
This webwalking adventure covers 5048 miles - which
you can complete as 5048 walking minutes, 504,800 steps, 504.8 miles, or 5048 miles.
As you enjoy your fitness walking, you
can follow along w/the sights you would see on the trail. You can also fill in the segments on the printable map.
Webwalking USA Logs
how you want to track your walks. By using the minutes option or the pedometer steps option you will get across the USA faster.
Or you may want to record it as miles.
|click on the map to get your own printable map
|to track your progress on!
Webwalking USA Logs
Choose how you want to track your walks. By using the minutes option or the
pedometer steps option you will get across the USA faster. Or you may want to record it as miles.
Chart your walking minutes & equate them
to miles on the trail.
You will see your progress build each day as a great motivator to walk.
Example: 60 minutes walking = 60 miles on the
If you use a pedometer, you can chart your
steps each day. Delete the last two digits of the total (divide by 100) & equate that to miles on the trail.
Example: 6000 steps = 60 miles on the trail.
Track your true mileage & chart it each
day. Or, for a quicker version, multiply your mileage by 10.
Example 1: 5 miles = 5 miles
5 miles = 50 miles
Webwalking USA Trail
Webwalking USA Milestones and Trail Highlights
The American Discovery Trail winds 5048 miles
from Delaware to California through great river valleys, over the Rockies & Sierra Nevada, to the ocean near San Francisco.
You can follow along each segment of the trail w/links to the American Discovery Trail web site.
Log your milestones on the trail as you complete
each segment & pass from state to state.
Webwalking USA Map
Color in your virtual walk as you achieve milestones.