Ultimate Walking Challenge: Part 2

Get moving this spring with part two of Weight Watchers Magazine's Ultimate Walking Challenge, and learn about how your body may respond to the increased training.
Ultimate Walking Challenge Part 2

Go the Distance

In this installment of Weight Watchers magazine's Ultimate Walking Challenge, we help you look for the cues your body may be sending you as you increase your training, and we get you walking with our second 8-week routine, designed by Lon Wilson, director of the Healthwalking program for the New York Road Runners Club.

As you walk, your body may be giving you cues that can help you fight boredom, avoid injury, and get a better walking workout.

The next time you're halfway through a walk, ask yourself, "How am I feeling?" Is the answer "Energetic"? "Bored"? "Sore"? Whatever your response, the key is to stop and listen to your body as you walk. Tuning in to the signals it sends can help you keep your body challenged and even reduce your risk of injury.

Get Ready: Posture Check
If you're slumping midwalk, it may be a sign that your body is fatigued. The good news? A quick posture check before heading out for a walk not only helps your form but can also give you the energy to keep moving and to protect yourself from injury. Stand tall with these tips from Lon Wilson of the New York Road Runners Club:

  • Head: Keep your head up. Lowering your chin causes the windpipe to constrict, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Shoulders: Relax and lower your shoulders; then pull them back. Slouching or rounding your shoulders adds tension.
  • Chest: Keep your chest lifted; don't stick it out like you're Superman. Lean forward slightly.
  • Arms and hands: Keep your arms close to your body with elbows slightly bent. Keep your hands open or loosely clenched.
  • Feet: When you take a step, land lightly on your heel, and then roll onto the front of your foot, pushing through your big toe to begin the next step.

Get Moving: Gauge the Intensity
The way you're breathing can help you monitor the intensity of your walk. To determine whether you need to take your walk up (or bring it down) a notch, try one of these tools the next time you head out for a walk:

The Talk Test. This is the easiest way to gauge the intensity of your walk. If you can comfortably carry on a conversation 10 minutes into your walk, you're probably exerting yourself at a good, moderate level. If you feel winded, you should ease up.

RPE Scale. The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is the quickest way to determine the intensity of your walk. Choose a number on a scale from 6 ("at rest") to 20 ("feels like I'm climbing Mount Everest") to describe how you feel during your walk. Aim for 10 or 11.

Heart Rate. This is the most accurate way of calculating the intensity of your workout. If you're a beginning walker, use this formula to find your target heart rate during a workout:

  1. Subtract your age from 220.
  2. To find the low end of your target range, multiply the result of step 1 by .5.
  3. To find the high end of your target range, multiply the result of step 1 by .6.

For instance, if you're a 40-year-old woman, your target heart rate should fall within a range of 90 to 108 beats per minute, based on these calculations: 220 – 40 = 180; 180 X .5 = 90; 180 X .6 = 108.

Walking Planner: Weeks 9 to 16
If you followed Part 1 of our Challenge, you're ready to move on to weeks 9 through 16. Going forward you'll start to up the speed and distance to burn more calories. Since you'll be covering more miles, we've given you two days off (Wednesday and Sunday) to help your muscles recover.

Tip: Click "Print" at the top of this page for a portable copy of the plan.

Week 9
Monday 1 1/2 miles in 30 min.
Tuesday 1 1/2 miles in 30 min.
Thursday 2 miles in 40 min.
Friday 1 1/2 miles in 30 min.
Saturday 2 miles in 40 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 8 1/2 miles
Week 10
Monday 2 miles in 40 min.
Tuesday 1 3/4 miles in 35 min.
Thursday 2 miles in 40 min.
Friday 1 3/4 miles in 35 min.
Saturday 2 miles in 40 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 9 1/2 miles
Week 11
Monday 2 miles in 40 min.
Tuesday 2 miles in 40 min.
Thursday 2 miles in 40 min.
Friday 1 3/4 miles in 35 min.
Saturday 2 miles in 40 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 9 3/4 miles
Week 12
Monday 2 miles in 40 min.
Tuesday 2 miles in 40 min.
Thursday 2 miles in 40 min.
Friday 2 miles in 40 min.
Saturday 2 1/2 miles in 45 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 10 1/2 miles
Week 13
Monday 2 miles 40 min.
Tuesday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Thursday 2 miles in 40 min.
Friday 1 mile in 20 min.
Saturday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 10 miles
Week 14
Monday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Tuesday 2 1/4 miles in 40 min.
Thursday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Friday 2 miles in 40 min.
Saturday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 11 3/4 miles
Week 15
Monday 2 miles in 40 min.
Tuesday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Thursday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Friday 1 1/2 miles in 30 min.
Saturday 3 miles in 60 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 11 1/2 miles
Week 16
Monday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Tuesday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Thursday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Friday 2 1/2 miles in 50 min.
Saturday 3 miles in 60 min.
WEEKLY TOTAL 13 miles

This article is excerpted from the March/April issue of Weight Watchers Magazine. Subscribe today to get great features like this one delivered right to your door!

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