Real Fitness with ChiWalking and a Metronome

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Walking is a fabulous way to get fit without pain or injury. However, you cannot just stroll when you walk if you want to loose weight and get fit. You need to walk at an aerobic pace, building up to at least 30 minutes per walk and preferably even longer, and walk at least 4 days a week, but 5-7 days is best.

In terms of making sure each walk is a valuable fitness workout, the best tool I use is a metronome. I walk almost every day, sometimes twice a day (thank heaven for our dog who nudges me out the door when I’m ambivalent) and I use the metronome for at least 3-4 walks a week. Otherwise, I slip into a slower pace and sloppy walking habits.

The metronome is especially important for ChiWalking because in ChiWalking, your stride length stays the same and your cadence changes as you go faster or slower. And, your pace may be different than someone else’s. For me, I really need to be walking at 140 strides per minute (spm) to get the kind of aerobic workout I need. It’s a good pace that I can hold for longer distance of 30-60 minutes or more. I start walking at 130 strides per minute and then build to and hold at 140 spm for the majority of the walk. For a longer hike of two hours or more, my cadence sets in at about 134 spm.

The metronome does more than just keep you moving at an aerobic pace. The steady rhythm quiets and focuses the mind and brings your walking form together. When you walk with the metronome you’ll feel your whole body working as one, rather than as separate parts: legs, arms, torso, and head.

The metronome is a fabulous tool to get an interval workout, which you want to do twice a week. The aerobic workouts are what will burn fat, but the interval workouts build strength in the most important muscle in your body – your heart. In an interval workout you can walk for 2-3 minutes at 140-150 strides per minute, or whatever pace elevates your breath and heart rate above an aerobic pace. You want to elevate, then lower your heart rate several times during the workout. Then lower your heart rate by walking at an aerobic cadence of 130-140 for 1-2 minutes. Warm up for five minutes, do 3-5 intervals and then cool off with a 5-10 minute aerobic walk.

Your metronome will keep you on task to keep your heart strong while keeping your body safe from injury and pain with good walking technique.

Posted in Gear, Technique

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