Have you recently caught the bug for active walking and your friends and family are wondering what has got into you?

Here's how to answer the most commonly asked questions, without losing motivation. Maybe you have even convinced them to join you in discovering all the pleasures of active walking!

Fitness walking - the ideal activity for getting back into sport

For those looking to get out and exercise in the fresh air, fitness walking offers several advantages. It can be done by walkers of all fitness levels and doesn't require much equipment, as you will only need a pair of specially adapted shoes when you start. You can walk whenever and wherever you want, and pace yourself according to how you feel and the goals you wish to achieve.

All this without risk, as Dr Bacquaert, sports and sports health consultant, emphasises: "With fitness walking, you don't put pressure on your joints when you push forwards, because when you walk, one foot is always on the ground!"

A gentle and gradual way to get back into fitness

"Your return to physical activity should be gradual, because you are likely to get out of breath very quickly when you start," warns Dr Bacquaert.

There are several things you can do to ease your body into exercise again:

• See your doctor to make sure you're fit and ready to take up exercise again,

• Make sure that you warm up by walking for several minutes at a relaxed pace,

• Never force your body: gradually increase your speed until you reach your fitness walking pace,

• At the end of the session, wind down to a natural pace for a few minutes.

Catch your breath, then take a few deep breaths and have a drink to avoid sore muscles.

Fitness walking: fast, encouraging progress

Rest assured: this gentle return to sport still has significant positive effects on your body and on your health!

According to Dr Bacquaert, "at a speed of between 5 and 6 km/h, you will be making significant progress. This will promote your well-being and work the whole body, toning the muscles of the lower limbs, abdominals, arm muscles and the muscles supporting the spinal column."

Beyond keeping you in peak physical condition, the benefits of active walking can also be felt on your morale, self-confidence and even your heart!

As simple as it seems, walking at a maintained fast pace will help strengthen your cardiac capacities: you will breathe more effectively and your body will adapt naturally to the extra effort. Isn't that motivating?

The importance of fitness walking… before running!

Fitness walking is a comprehensive endurance activity, and is therefore a good prelude to returning to other sports such as cycling, swimming and of course, running.

Why?Because excess kilos are the enemy of runners! Fitness walking, combined with a healthier diet, can help you lose a few extra pounds if you are slightly overweight, which means you will avoid putting too much strain on your joints when you take up running again.

A last tip before you reach for your walking shoes? "If you are feeling any pain, fatigue or cramps, stop", recommends Dr Bacquaert, "breathe and drink plenty of water to rehydrate yourself".

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