Fitness Walking: Fuel and Fluids

Although many of you may be taking up a walking program to lose weight (and it is indeed effective with consistency), don’t  starve your body for energy or forget to hydrate properly. Food is energy. It fuels your exercise, and that keeps you putting one foot in front  of the  other. That said,  you won’t use more than about 50 to 100 calories per mile on a moderately brisk walk, so you don’t want to overdo the intake. If you plan to go for a walk at the end of the day, however, and if you haven’t eaten all day, you may end up feeling exhausted. Do yourself a favor and eat a small prewalk snack such as fruit, fresh or dried, or a few bites of a sports energy bar, or some other quality nibble. If you  plan  to head out for two hours or more, take a sports energy bar  or fruit to keep  you powered. Racers in different foot-powered activities may need up to 300 calories an hour at high intensities, but  you’ll need less,  albeit still some.

Fitness Walking - Fuel and FluidsWhen  it comes to hydration, that’s an entirely different story. Everybody needs water and fluids. During exercise, you need about 6 to 16 ounces of water an hour, assuming it’s not particularly hot and you aren’t working out at a very high  intensity. Normally, if you  are  going for 2 to 3 miles,  you  should be fine drinking a glass of water before you leave and swigging more when you return. However, if it’s extra humid or hot, err on the side of caution and carry water. If you plan to walk longer, always carry water. All kinds  of water belts and packs are  available, from  those with  reservoirs and  drinking tubes to belts around your  waist  that hold  bottles. Check  out  sporting goods, running specialty, or outdoor specialty stores to see  which design best fits you and  your  needs.

What about sport drinks? Unless you’re out for more than an hour, you have no need to take  in the  extra calories; stick  with water. If you’re  going to walk longer or it’s very  hot  or humid, sip on a sport drink  that isn’t too  sweet and contains sodium and  potassium.

Now that you have  supportive shoes on your  feet and appropriate clothing and  other gear, it’s time  to get technical. Let’s move  on to training formulas, information about heart rate, stretching, and strengthening—information you’ll need before you can set  out  to make great strides.

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