Girlfriends: Walk this Way

June 6, 2009 Most people don't know it but they aren't walking the right way, says Tracey Mallett, fitness and lifestyle expert and author of "Sexy in 6." Walking improperly can cause aches and pains as well as more severe knee and back problems, she says.

Tracey has some tips for those who want to start a walking program. Spring is the best time to start, she says. However, she warns, you need to work up to walking long distances at a brisk pace. "Start with 20 minutes, then gradually increase the time as you get stronger," Tracey says. "Don't go for gold in your first walk this will only result in soreness and possible injury."

Benefits of Walking:

1. Prevents type 2 diabetes. By losing just 7% of your body weight (12-15 pounds) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58%.
2. Strengthens your heart and improves your cardiovascular fitness.
3. Slows down the rate of bone loss preventing osteoporosis.

What you'll need:

1. Walking shoes. Before you start your walking program the most important tools to invest in is a good pair of supportive shoes. Tracy recommends Earth Foot Wear as they have a great anatomical arch support to prevent injuries such as plantar fasciitis and they also help to boost your overall calorie burn due to a simple design feature called Kalso Negative Heel Technology. This is a 3.7 degree incline built in to the shoe that naturally shifts your weight back resulting in a better posture and more recruitment of the calves, thighs and abs.
2. A Pedometer is also a great tool to count your steps and keep you accountable to a daily accumulative goal of 10,000 steps a day. This equals four miles or around 450 calories.

The following exercises will condition the body to walk safely without injury:

1. Standing Side Lift: focuses on strengthening the glutes especially the gluteus medius which is responsible for stabilizing the pelvis and decreases the work load of the lower back.
2. Calf Raises: the calves are the number one walking muscles, they're extremely important to strengthen for endurance and efficiency.
3. Classic Squats: you're working multi muscle groups together for overall lower body strength giving you the power to walk the hills with ease.

Walking Tips:

1. Always focus on good posture while you're walking. Draw your shoulder blades down your back; pull your belly towards the spine and stand tall.
2. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Head should be upright, eyes looking forward.
3. Walk heel toe through your feet and swing your arms in opposite direction to your feet.
4. Speed up your arm swing to increase your speed and your legs will follow!
5. Mix up your routes on a regular basis, this will keep your body challenged yielding in greater changes
6. Always stretch out the lower body muscles after your walk and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds for any kind of benefit.


Tracey Mallett Fitness and Lifestyle Expert, is the author of "Sexy in 6" and star of over 16 exercises DVD's. Tracey has become a fitness icon to millions of moms and working women across the world. After her first pregnancy, a 55 pound weight gain she placed her career on hold with a complete lack of confidence. Tracey knows first hand that it's easy to lose sight of one's identity and self-confidence with life's daily stresses, and what it takes to get back into shape. She has made it her mission to help and motivate people to find their path to weight loss success with quick, simple, practical healthy solutions and sound nutrition. Tracey has appeared on The Style Network as their Fitness and Lifestyle Expert and you can who watch her workouts on Exercise TV. Her suggestions about pre and post natal fitness appears on and as their prenatal exercise expert. Her products are also best sellers in the UK and Japan. Tracey is a regular contributor to Shape, Fitness, Self and Pilates Style.

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