Walking – from fat to fit

Walking the Streets at night
Khachik Simonian

Over the last couple of months or so, I have been working on my fitness. Like many people I had let things slide over the winter months and spent much of my time staying inside. So I had to come up with a plan that would get me out and about exercising again and for me, that meant walking.

The target I had set myself was to I would get at least 10,000 steps every day just by walking. That figure was not randomly picked. It is the goal set when I got my FitBit and appears to stem from when pedometers were introduced in Japan.

However, new advice issued by Public Health England seems to rubbish the idea that 10,000 steps a day is a good target. They are suggesting that a brisk 10 minute walk has the same benefit. I am not sure how they have arrived at that conclusion, but that appears to be the latest advice to people across the UK.

For me though, walking 10,000 steps every day is an achievable, but more importantly, sustainable regime, at least for my life at the moment. It gives me a clear target. I have worked out a walking route that allows me to achieve that. Plus, I have also now started walking with a weighted pack to increase the effort required. The weights I use in my pack are actually two litre PepsiMax bottles that have been filled with water. This was a deliberate choice because if I found I was really struggling to walk with the weight, instead of simply pushing on and risking injury, I could empty some of the water out by either drinking it, or pouring it away. Sneaky eh?

In the last two months I have only missed my target on four occasions. Two of these were when I was sick. The others were in the early days when I was still aching from the previous day when I had pushed myself too far. I always think it is better to miss a day than risk an injury as this is a long term thing.

Over the last couple of days or so, I have really started to see the benefits of what I have been doing. I have gone in three notches on my belt (I’m now on the shortest setting so may need a new one soon) and down one size in tops. My trousers are starting to feel quite baggy as well. I find this is much more motivating than obsessing about measurements or stats. Real life differences in the real world. 

I now have a regular route that I can walk without thinking and still hit my targets. This allows me to get plenty of brisk walking time in whilst achieving my step-count goal. So for me, I get the best of both worlds. My challenge for the future is to cover the same distance in a shorter time, whilst carrying heavier weight in the pack.

N.B. Seek professional medical advice prior to starting an exercise regime and ensure whatever load carrying system you use distributes the weight on your back between your shoulders and hips properly.