Evaluating Your Health and Walking Fitness

Before you  start a new  activity program, even  one  as  seemingly simple as walking,  it’s important to determine not  only  how  healthy and  fit you  are  in general but  also how fit you are in the  specific activity you want  to begin.  For example, if you are  a very  fit cyclist, you might  not  have  the  specific muscle strength or endurance for long  or speedy walking workouts. On  the other hand, even  if you  have been inactive for a while, you may have developed  leg  strength  through everyday tasks such as gardening or dog walking,  and  you  might not have  to  start with  short and  easy   introductor y workouts.

Remember, too, that  health y  and  fit  don’t always go hand in hand. You  may  be  healthy  in  the  medical  sense (meaning you  are  free  of clinical  disease) but  lack enough strength,  flexibility, or endurance for physical activity. On the other hand, you  might be  strong from physical activity but show signs of  disease because of genetics or poor lifestyle choices. Just because you  are active doesn’t mean you can  eat all the junk you want  or treat your  body  poorly. It can still talk back  to you, and per- haps in ways you’d rather not  hear.

No matter what your health and fitness levels or your current level of activity, it’s important to reassess them prior to jumping into something new. Remember, the key to accurate results of any assessment is to be straightforward and honest in your answers. You’ll only cheat yourself and your potential if you fib. In this  case, a less-than-honest answer could also  lead  to injury  rather than to maximum improvement and  peak  enjoyment of walking.  And enjoyment is what  we’re after.Evaluating-Your-Health-and-Walking-Fitness-f2

Although walking  is a virtually injury-free sport, when  you  increase your activity level  or try a different technique or new  workout regimen, you  suddenly  put additional stress on  a new  part of your body or on  previously unused muscles and  tissues. While walking,  it’s still possible to aggravate an old  injury  you  hadn’t cared for properly or discover a genetic deficiency or muscle imbalance that was undetectable in your  previous routine or because you were  inactive.

As with any activity, be smart, ease into  each new level, and  listen to your body. This article will help  you  avoid  the  pitfalls and  show  you  how  to  pace yourself as you progress. Be smart and  be safe. That’s the  bottom line.

PAR-Q Test

The  PAR-Q basic health screening, which stands for Physical Activity  Readiness Questionnaire, is designed to set  off alarm bells  for high-risk conditions that need a doctor’s consultation. It is only a general review. But don’t blow it off as unnecessary. Instead, take  a few moments to read and  complete it (see figure 1.1).

Evaluating Your Health and Walking Fitness - f1Figure 1.1  The  PAR-Q Test

See also:

Walking Health – Fitness Assessment

1-Mile Walking Test

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