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Walk Into Fitness 

Once you have embarked on a conscious and well-thought-out plan for losing body fat, one of the best things you can do to shed excess fat pounds and keep them off is aerobic walking. Walking between 45 and 60 minutes a day is, by far, one of the easiest and most beneficial forms of exercise anyone can engage in.

A recent article published by the American College of Sports Medicine says that aerobic activity reduces insulin resistance in people who suffer from obesity, and aerobic training helps you to lose more fat than lean muscle.

Another study by a prestigious medical publication showed that the risk of developing heart disease in men between the ages of 71 and 93 decreased 15 percent for every half-mile they walked per day. Someone walking two miles a day may reduce their risk by more than 50 percent.

Walking is the simplest and least expensive exercise you can do, yet one of the most beneficial. Other than a comfortable pair of shoes, no special equipment is required. Buy your shoes in a store that specializes in athletic equipment. The two main things to look for are support and comfort. Make sure the footwear isn't too loose but allows room for expansion and for the toes to move. When you walk, dress appropriately for the weather.

Each of your walking sessions should be between 45 and 60 minutes per day. It is best not to eat first. If you consume anything high in sugar, it will minimize your body's ability to reach into its fat stores and burn off the body fat you're trying to lose.

Go through a brief warm-up before your walk; five to 10 minutes of stretching exercises should suffice. It is extremely important for your muscles and joints to be limber when you begin your walk. However, while walking be careful not to overexert yourself. Signs of overdoing it include severe shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, tightness in the chest, excessive perspiration and other discomforts. Consult your physician prior to beginning a new exercise program, especially after a prolonged period of inactivity.

I suggest walking at least six times a week, and the ideal time is between 1 and 1 1/2 hours before your evening meal, if you desire to increase your metabolic rate. While walking, think positive thoughts, set a comfortable pace and maintain good posture throughout.

For the overfat individual, if you adopt and adhere to a plan of eating foods with a low glycemic index, as discussed in previous columns, this aerobic walking program will help you lose unwanted fat in your abdominal area. And, if you stick to this plan, you not only will take the fat off, you'll keep it off.

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