A gradual increase in the intensity of your workout could be the key to helping you drop that extra weight

Photo by Rick McGinnis


Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod

You don’thave to become a marathon runner or professional body builder to shed excess holiday weight. In fact, if you’re trying to lose weight, a gradual increase in the intensity of your activity, rather than pushing too hard, will help burn more calories and shed extra pounds.

Physical activity plays a significant role in balancing cholesterol levels. If you’re living with high cholesterol, physical activity can increase HDL, the good cholesterol, and is a key factor for measuring your Cholesterol Ratio—the relationship between total cholesterol (TC) and good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. The Cholesterol Ratio is among the best predictors of long-term cardiovascular risk and is a number that you should know.

According to Body Break fitness experts Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod,“engaging in cardiovascular activity and staying within the target heart rate zone for longer than 12 minutes can help strengthen the heart, lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, improve sleep and lead to a leaner body.”

Walking is one of the easiest, most convenient and healthiest cardiovascular activities to get you moving. But like any new activity, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Tips from Hal Johnson & Joanne McLeod

•Warm ups: Start by walking at an easy pace for five to 10 minutes.

•Posture: Use your walk as an opportunity to practice good posture. Keep your chest and chin up, your shoulders back and pull your abdominal muscles up and in.

•Technique: Keep elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. Shoulders should be relaxed as the arms swing in sync with the legs.

•Intensity: Pump arms with more vigor and focus on pushing off the toes with more force. Try adding hills to your outdoor walking routines for more of a challenge.

•Cool down: Finish your workout with five to 10 minutes of walking at an easy pace. Do stretches especially for your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and back.

•Enjoy yourself: try not to replay the problems of the day while you walk. Instead, pay attention to your breathing and how your body feels.

You can find out more about managing your cholesterol and download a free walking program online at www.knowyourratio.ca.