Walking expert Nicki Waterman solves your fitness questions
Q. Does training on a treadmill count?
While there are some differences between outdoor and treadmill walking, walking indoors is an effective (and safe!) way to train during the winter. If you can only handle one outdoor walk per week, try to make it your long walk, so your body gets used to road walking for long distances.
Q. How many calories can I lose with walking and what muscles am I using apart from the obvious?
Asimple rule of thumb is 100 calories per mile for a 180lb person. Walking tones muscles in the buttocks, thighs, hips, shoulders, upper back and abs. Fitness walkers average 12 to 15 minutes per mile.
Q. What is the ideal length of walk per day to help with losing weight?
For weight loss and general health, you should be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. This level of activity burns approximately 150 calories, which would burn 5lb in six months. Most weight-loss programmes recommend building up to an hour a day (most days) of moderate physical activity. This burns approximately 300 extra calories, leading to a loss of 10lb in six months.
Q. What's the pain that I sometimes get in the front of my shins when walking?
Sounds like shin splints. Consider orthotic inserts. Most commonly, arch problems like over-pronation (flat feet) are at the heart of these problems. Anti-inflammatories will help, but go easy on them. Aspirin and its brethren are not as benign as they're often made out to be, especially when taken over prolonged periods. Ice, ice, and more ice will help too.
Q. What can I do about pain in the balls of my feet?
The best treatment depends on the cause. A change of shoes (even from ones that seem sensible) to ones with a broad area for the toes; shoe inserts to take pressure off the painful area; exercises to strengthen foot muscles, and weight reduction can all make a big difference.
For more info on injuries go to sportsmedicine.about.com