By Brenda Owen

Daily Journal

If you are just beginning an exercise program, experts say one of the best ways to start is by walking.

To walk at the right pace, you need to know your target heart rate. At your target heart rate, you’re getting maximum aerobic benefits at a safe, comfortable. pace. Before finding your target heart rate, learn to take your pulse.

To take your pulse, lightly press the thumb side of your wrist with your first two fingers, noting the beats per minutes. The best way to do this is to count the number of beats for 10 seconds and multiply by six. Once you have determined your resting heart rate. The general formula for finding your target heart rate is to begin with 220 and subtract your age. This will give you your maximum heart rate, which is the fastest your heart should beat at your age. From this number subtract your resting heart rate and multiply by .60, then add your resting heart rate back to the result. This will give you your target heart rate per minute. To get your 10-second target heart rate simply divide by six.

While walking you should monitor your target heart rate about five to 10 minutes into your walk. If you’re below the target rate, walk faster. If you’re above the target rate, slow down.

Stretching before you walk prepares your muscles and joints for exercise. To stretch your calves, press your back heel to the ground and bend your front knee keeping both knees pointing forward. Stretch each side three times slowly, holding for 20-30 seconds each. Never bounce, just stretch.

Begin walking slowly, gradually increasing your pace until your reach your target heart rate. Walk erect, with full strides, swinging your arms easily. Cool down by gradually slowing your pace as you end your walk.

Finish your walk by again stretching your muscles.

Source: “Walking for Fitness,” Krames Communications.

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