Your Complete Guide to Fitness Walking in Springtime

Walking Through the Daffodils
Walking Through the Daffodils. Take A Pix Media/Getty Images

Time to tune up your walking to make the most of spring. With longer days and warmer weather just around the corner, get ready to make the most of it.

Tune Up Your Walking Gear and Clothing

You will need lighter clothing layers for spring. If you are new to walking, this is your chance to go shopping for shorts and light tops. If you are a veteran walker, time to unpack the spring and summer workout clothes and check to see what needs replaced.

Do your spring walking clothes from last year still fit? Maybe there is less of you now. In the grand tradition of spring cleaning and reorganizing, find a prominent place for your walking clothes, shoes, and gear so you can be ready to walk at any time.

  • Tops: Sweat-wicking tops keep you comfortable in warmer weather.
  • Lightweight hat or visor: Hats can keep the sun off your head and out of your eyes.
  • Sports bra: Does your present sports bra do the job?
  • Shorts: Time to let your legs out in the air. I prefer quick-drying fabrics.
  • Socks: Are they worn? Is it time for some new pairs? Also think of summer weight socks if you generally wear wool or heavy socks.
  • Shoes: How many miles have you put on this pair? If it's over 300, it's time to buy another pair to rotate in. Retire the old pair by 500 miles.
  • Water Carriers: Be sure you have a carrier for water included in your walking gear as the temperatures begin to go up.
  • Raingear: The proverbial April showers shouldn't keep you indoors. Keep an umbrella and rain poncho or waterproof jacket handy.

Spring Walking: Tune Up Your Muscles

In anticipation of summer and shorts and swimwear, it's time to work on muscle tone besides the muscles built by walking. As a bonus, these muscles will burn more calories (even at rest). Toned muscles, even if you are overweight, will enhance the way you look and feel.

Strength Training

Work in some exercises for your non-walking muscles every other day. This can be done after your walk for just a few extra minutes. Invest in some light dumbbells or elastic bands to add resistance, or just lift some cans tied in a towel (a pint is a pound, a quart is 2 pounds, a gallon is 8 pounds).

Workouts for Your Legs

If you are a health walker or fitness walker, your legs are being toned. But you may want to engage in some cross-training that will build the opposing muscle groups in your legs. Bicycle riding, stair climbing, and adding some hills to your walking route will accomplish this. Or, you may want to use some specific exercises.

Workouts for Your Upper Body

Your arms and upper body don't get much of a workout from walking, although using powerful arms during walking can give you some tone. But it is best to spend an extra few minutes after your walk with light weights to tone your arms.

Ab Workouts for Your Core

Strong abdominal muscles are essential to good walking posture. Sit-ups and crunches can build these muscles.

Spring Walking: Tune Up Your Goals

Time to reassess your goals. You may have started this winter setting a goal to be able to walk a mile or two, and now that is a breeze. Or you may have started with the lofty goal of doing a marathon, but now believe that is out of reach. Time to set new, realistic goals. The essentials of a good fitness goal are:

  • Realistic: The goal should be challenging, but realistically achievable. Don't set you sights too low, but also don't set yourself up for failure.
  • Measurable: Your goal should be stated in a way that can be measured. How many miles a week? How many pounds or inches to lose? What 10K distance time?
  • Dated: Set dates by which you will attain the goal and intermediate goals along the way.
  • Recorded: Your goal should be written down so you can review it.
  • Tracked: Keep your goal in sight and see what steps you are making towards attaining it by tracking your progress.
  • Celebrated: When you reach new milestones, celebrate. And when you achieve your overall goals, don't hold back. Reward yourself!

Spring Walking: Tune Up Your Eating Habits and Nutrition

The holidays and the gloomy weather of winter often add up to unwanted pounds. Spring offers a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as more daylight hours. Time to reassess your diet to see if you are eating right for health and nutrition.

  • More Vegetables and Fruits: Roam the produce aisle and try something new each week. Studies suggest that what is wrong with the American diet is a lack of variety. Make preparing new vegetables and fruits your spring fling.
  • Eat Colorful Foods: There are more healthy compounds in intensely colored red peppers, tomatoes, etc. than in iceberg lettuce.
  • Eat Real Food: Health food companies have only begun to isolate the wonderful nutritional compounds already in our foods. Don't miss out. Eat the real food rather than taking a pill.
  • Try a Week as a Vegetarian: This is not a fad diet, it is a lifestyle that you may find you enjoy.
  • Shape Up Your Snacks: Toss the candy and chips and have fruit for your sweet snack and carrots and celery for your crunchy snacks.
  • Evening Rewards: Relax in the evening with an herbal tea instead of an alcoholic beverage or sweet dessert.
  • Keep an Eating Diary: Wonder where the pounds came from? List everything you eat each day for a week. Be honest. You should be able to spot some of the trouble-making eating habits (oversize portions, too many high calorie snacks or desserts, etc.).
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