You might think that there can’t be much to a walking program – you just need to get out and do it! Well, it’s true that getting out for a walk whenever you can manage it is going to help get you back into shape, but you can get more out of it by having a program you are working to. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to a rigid timetable – the advantage of pram walking is that it is flexible and something you can do with your baby.
Working out a program will help in several ways:
- It will help to keep you motivated by having realistic goals to work to
- It will help you to focus your efforts when you are walking, rather than just ambling along
- It will give you a rate of progression to work to, to ensure that your fitness is gradually improving
To design your program, you need to establish what level you are at now and form a realistic plan for progression. This should help to direct your efforts and give you something to work towards. First of all you need to decide how much time you are likely to be able to spend walking each week and get yourself a pedometer. Then you can assess where you are starting from.
As an example, suppose you have decided that you will be able to fit in some walking sessions of 10 minutes and 20 minutes each week. To work out your starting point, do 2 separate walks at speeds you can comfortably keep up for 10 minutes and 20 minutes and note the distance for each.
Let's say it was 1.5km in 20 minutes and 0.9 km in 10 minutes. In order to progress, you will need to either increase the time you walk for, increase the number of walks, increase the speed at which you walk, or make walking harder by walking on a more difficult surface, like grass, or walking up and down hill. The best way to progress is really just what works best for you. For example, you might want to:
- add an extra 10 minute walk each week
- increase your short walk time by 1-2 mins/week
- walk a bit further in the 20 minute walk (about another 0.1km/week)
- work harder for part one of your walks (5 minutes on a hilly route or on grass)
- increase your walk times up to 15mins and 25mins then make them harder
There are endless combinations of what you can do, just make sure it's what you're comfortable with and there is definite progression. After a couple of months you can re-assess how you are getting on and write a new program
Please note though, although pram walking is a good way get yourself active and start shaping up, it can give you back problems if you do it with poor posture. You should always make sure your posture is good when you are pushing the pram, with the abdominal muscles braced and the shoulders held back. Bending forwards over the pram is not only bad for the back, it is nowhere near as effective when it comes to toning the abs and legs.