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HomeWYF Program


A few tips to remember for your fitness program


Weekly homework.

Completing your weekly homework is essential to reaching your fitness goals.  You cannot expect to reach your goals by walking just once a week with the group on Saturday morning.  Being fit is all about repetition and training your body at regular intervals during the week.  In addition to becoming aerobically fit, you need to build the muscles in your feet, legs, arms, shoulders and the rest of your body.  This is done through repetition.  Otherwise, you could risk being injured. 


Warm up before you head out.

As with any aerobic activity, warm up for a few minutes before heading out on your walk.  You are given a few simple warm-up and flexibility exercises in this packet.  Always start your walk SLOWLY and gradually increase to your normal walking pace. Your pace will become faster over time.  Pushing yourself beyond your limit too soon will result in injuries! 

Saturday Walks are for Endurance.

Long Saturday walks are important.  They prepare your body for longer periods of time on your feet.  We will eventually walk five miles … or 10,000 steps.  Right now, your Saturday pace will be slower than your homework pace.  The slower Saturday pace will greatly reduce the possibility of injury and also speeds the recovery process.

Don’t let your ego interfere with proper training.

It can be difficult to slow your pace on the longer Saturday walks.  There’s a little voice inside your head that keeps telling you to go faster.  Well, that little voice is wrong!  Your breathing should be elevated, but you should not be gasping for air. A rule of thumb that works for most people is... If you cannot talk you are walking too fast, if you can carry a tune you are walking too slow.  Don’t let your ego interfere with proper training and your ultimate fitness goals.


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

This simply means drink plenty of water.  If your urine is not clear or very lightly colored when you arise Saturday morning, then you did not drink enough water the day before.  It may be too late to properly hydrate, but you can assist your body nonetheless.  Drink eight to 16 ounces of water when you get up Saturday morning, then another eight to 16 ounces 15 minutes before your walk. Then drink four to eight ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise.  If you wait until you’re thirsty, it will be too late.  This is particularly important during hot summer days.


Stretch after you walk.

After every walk, take a few minutes to stretch your muscles.  This will become increasingly important when you increase your mileage.  In this packet, you are given a few stretching exercises.  We will actually do the exercises as a group on Saturday.  Also do the same exercises after your homework walks.  Don’t stretch cold muscles.  Wait until AFTER your walk. 


Take care of your feet.

Make sure you are wearing the correct walking shoe for your feet, type of exercise program you will be using them for, and gate.  The best place to select your shoes in Redlands is The Running Center.  All staff members there are seasoned and accomplished runners and athletes.  They will actually have you try on shoes and observe you walking in the store.  Be prepared to spend some time picking out your shoes. Don’t be surprised if you try as many as six different pairs of shoes on before you find the correct shoe for you!


Typically, a walking shoe will be a whole size larger than your regular street shoe (i.e.: Your regular shoe could be Size 8 and your walking shoe Size 9).  You will also find that manufacturer sizing differs.  Some walking shoes run smaller or larger than others based on design and brand.  The rule of thumb … literally … is that when you stand in your walking shoes, you should have a full thumb’s width between the end of your big toe and the end of your shoe.  Also, you can wear a running shoe for walking as long as it has a lower profile heel.  For walking, you don’t want a running shoe with a higher heel and forward pitch.


The life of a running/walking shoe is usually 400-500 miles.


NO COTTON SOCKS!  Cotton socks cause blisters.  Wear socks that will wick moisture away from your feet.  Some people prefer thin socks.  Some people like a thicker, more padded sock.  Just keep in mind that your feet will swell, so you don’t want a sock that is too thick.  But by the same token, you don’t want your foot to slide around in your shoe. 


Make sure your toenails are regularly trimmed.  Long toenails and long walks do not go together!  If your toenails are too long, the impact of your feet hitting the pavement can cause trauma and damage to your toes and toenails.

Rules of the Road

For your safety, read and heed!


       Walk against opposing traffic…unless road conditions completely prohibit you from doing so.  If you have
       to walk with traffic, then leave the headphones off so you can listen and pay attention to traffic. 

       Walk in bike lanes.  Do not go outside the bike lane unless passing another walker.  And when you do 
       pass, do so with caution.  Also remember bike lanes are designed for cyclists.  When you encounter a
       cyclist it is your responsibility to yield.
       Walk single file on narrow streets.  NO EXCEPTIONS.
       Walking two-by-two is okay on wide streets.  However, no more than two people side by side.

                                             Alert other walkers when you see a car or cyclist heading in your direction.  If you see a car approaching you from behind, yell to your fellow walkers, “Car back!”  If you see a car in front of you, yell to walkers, “Car front!”  The same goes for cyclists.

Be courteous to motorists and cyclists.  Imagine yourself behind the wheel of your own car or on a bike attempting to dodge groups of walkers.

Set a good example for other walkers.  Don’t break rules.  And if you see another Walk Yourself Fit walker breaking the rules, remind them.

Make yourself visible.  Wear bright colors when you walk during daylight hours.  When you are walking before dawn or after dusk, wear white or other light colors.  For added safety, wear reflective clothing (i.e. vest, cap, reflective strips, etc…)

Walk with a partner.  There is always safety in numbers…even if you think you can handle yourself in any situation, it is best to not be alone when encountering a difficult situation.  Remember your partner can also be your dog.

Flexibility Exercises, Warm Up, Cool Down and Stretching


Make every walk a complete workout by including these elements.  Neglecting to do so will make walking more difficult, and increase the risk of injury.


Flexibility Exercises

These exercises are part of your warm up and should be done before starting out on your walk. The faster you plan to walk the more time you will need to dedicate to flexibility exercises. There are many different exercises in this group. Here are a few to try.


Toe Pointing -  Stand on one leg and lift the other foot off the floor. Gently point your toe and hold for a few seconds. Next flex your foot pointing your toes up. Do these five or ten times on each foot.

Toe Tapping -  Put most of your weight on one foot and while leaving the other foot on the ground, start tapping your toe on that foot.  You will begin feeling a slight burning sensation in your shin muscle.  Once you do, switch feet and tap the other toe.  Do this five to ten times on each foot.  Walkers use the muscles of the shin.  If the shin muscles are not warmed up properly, you can develop what they call shin splints. 


Ankle Circles - While standing on one leg lift the other foot off the floor. Gently point your toe and rotate your ankle. Do about ten circles in each direction. This exercise can be performed while standing, sitting, or lying on your back with leg being raised.



The Twist - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out, parallel to ground. Keep your lower body stationary while swinging your arms from side to side. Do this several times to loosen up your waist, back, and shoulders.
Overhead Reach - Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Reach up with one arm and then reach over your head and to the opposite side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight. Relax and repeat with the other side.
Arm Circles - Hold your arms straight out to your side parallel to the ground. Make small circles going backward, gradually getting larger and larger. Rest for a second and do the same thing in the forward direction.

Warming Up

Warming up is walking at a lower intensity in order to get the blood circulating and let your body know that you are preparing for exercise. For many of your walks it will only be necessary to warm up about five minutes. As you progress through your walking program you will need to warm up longer on days you will do your fast workouts.

Cool Down

At the end of your walk you need to walk at a slower pace to cool down. The harder you have worked out the longer you should cool down. In the beginning your walks are very short and you only need to cool down a couple of minutes. As walking time and intensity increases so should your cool down period.


This is such a neglected area for many people. Start off right and take the time to stretch AFTER every workout. In the beginning stretches should take at least 5 minutes. As you increase distance and pace you will probably need to stretch longer.

Important rules for stretching:

1) Never stretch cold muscles. The best time to stretch is after your walk. If you have problem areas they can be stretched prior to your walk, but only do this after you have warmed up.

2) Do not bounce. Go into a stretch slowly and hold gently. Stretch to the point of feeling a gentle pull, but never to the point of pain

3) Hold each stretch for 30 to 40 seconds. If you have problems with a particular area stretch that area twice. (Hold for 30-40 seconds release, then stretch again.)

There are so many stretches it is impossible to cover them all. Be sure to stretch all the major muscle groups, and put extra focus on any areas you have trouble with. Find a few recommended stretches below:


Standing Hip and Iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch - Stand and cross one leg in front of the other, so that the feet are parallel.  Bend over from the waist with your arms and hands reaching for the floor.  You do not have to touch the floor.  You will feel a stretch in the hip of the leg behind the leg that crosses over the back leg.  Hold this for 15 to 20 seconds.  Stand up again, bending from the waist.  Switch legs and repeat.  This is a stretch you can do even during your walks when you experience your hips and illiotibial (IT) band tightening.

Abductor Muscle Stretch -   Get down on your hands and knees.  Put your left leg out to the side with your left foot flat on the ground and toes of your left foot directed forward, and hold for 15 to 20 seconds.  Next, put your left leg under your body and put your right leg out to the side with your right foot flat on the ground and toes of your right foot directed forward, and hold for 15 to 20 seconds.

Calf Stretch - Stand on your toes on a step or curb.  Hold on to something for balance.
Remove your left foot and slowly allow the right heel to move down. Hold this position. Be sure to keep you body upright and straight. Release and repeat on the other side.

Another calf stretch: Take a big step forward with your left foot, keeping you right heel on the ground. Hold the position and repeat on the other side. Be sure to keep your body upright and your abs tight, do not arch your back.

Shin Stretch -  Standing up, hold on to a stationary object. Stand with your weight on one leg and straighten it. Place your other foot on the ground, with toes pointed and your toenails toward the floor. With the tops of your toes touching the ground, roll your foot and leg forward, from the ankle. Release and repeat on the other side.  This is another stretch you can perform during your walks if your shins start to tighten up.


Hamstring and Lower Back - Slowly bend forward from your waist with your knees slightly bent. Reach for the floor and hold. Only bend as far as comfortableWhile lying on your back, bring both knees up towards the chest with the hands. Round the lower back and relax into the stretch. Don't do this stretch on a hard will bruise the spine!

Quadriceps Stretch - Standing up, hold on to a stationary object. Bend your right knee, bringing your foot toward your buttocks. Keeping your left knee slightly bent, grasp your right ankle with the opposite hand. Slowly pull your leg up and back, bringing your foot at high as comfortable.  Then repeat with the other leg. (To protect your knee... think of pulling the quads back rather than pulling the foot toward your buttocks.).


Outer thigh and buttocks and spine - While lying on your back bring your right knee up. Place your left hand on your thigh and gently pull it over to your left side. Do not pull at the knee. Your shoulders, left leg and back should remain flat. Pull gently. Then repeat on the left side.

Shoulder Stretch - Standing upright, cross left arm over chest. Place your right hand on your upper arm and pull arm in tight to chest. Be sure to keep shoulders down and do not pull at the elbow. Hold, and then repeat stretch with other arm.


Neck Relaxer #1 -  Turn and look over your shoulder and hold.  Repeat over your left shoulder.  Don't hyper-extend the neck, or tilt it backwards.

Neck Relaxer #2 - Stand up straight.  Put your hand just behind the crown of your head and gently pull your head forward, so that your chin touches (or almost touches) your chest and hold.  Next, place your right hand on the left side of your head above your left ear and gently pull your head toward the right shoulder, so that the ear almost touches your right shoulder and hold.  Make sure to keep your left shoulder stays down.  Next, place your left hand on the right side of your head and gently pull your head toward the left shoulder, so that the ear almost touches your left shoulder and hold.  Make sure your right should stays down.  Next, place your right hand behind the crown and gently pull your head at an angle down, so that your chin almost touches right side of your collar bone.  Next, place your left hand behind the crown and gently pull your head at an angle down, so that your chin almost touches the left side of your collar bone and hold.  Make sure to keep your spine in an upright position.  Hold each position for 15 to 20 seconds.


Spine Decompression Stretch -  Stand up straight and reach with both arms and hands toward the sky, stretching the spine, and hold.  Next, put palms of your hands together and press against one another, and hold for 15 to 20 seconds.


Be cool when it's hot!

You can beat the heat and still enjoy your workouts.  Here are some simple guidelines to stay cool when you’re on your walk.

Walk in the early morning hours.  Not only is the temperature cooler, the air quality is generally better.

Drink! Drink! Drink! Water, that is.  The warm weather will make you perspire even more and that is precious fluid that your muscles need to keep going.  Replenish the fluids while you’re walking, as well as before and after the walk.


Acclimate. Ease into warm weather and acclimate yourself.  For the first two weeks of hot weather avoid pushing yourself too hard.  Acclimation should be complete in 10 days to two weeks…be patient.


Wear loose, light and comfortable clothing. Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing.  Let your body breath!


Stay away from the rays.  Apply plenty of sunscreen.  You’re working hard to keep your body in shape, so don’t neglect your skin.


Wear a hat.  Keep your head covered, but with a light mesh fiber that is breathable.  Don’t wear a hat of heavy material.


Pour water on your head.  It won’t lower your body’s temperature but it will make you feel better on those hot days.


Start your walk slowly.  This will help your lasting power.  Do the first mile slower than your usual pace.


Cool off in a pool.  A cool dip in the pool or a cool bath will assist your recovery following walk on a hot day.


Be smart and safe, carry your own water.  Walk with your own water, even on those shorter homework days.  Don’t assume you’ll make it home.


Learn the warning signs of overheating.  Heat induced illness is not something you ignore.  Know the warning signs and heed them if you find yourself experiencing them:  headache or lack of concentration; loss of muscular control; over sweating followed by clammy skin and cessation of sweating; hot and cold flashes, and upset stomach, muscle cramps, vomiting and dizziness.


Reduce your speed.  The heart actually beats faster in the heat so don’t put any more stress on your system than is necessary.


Adjust your expectations.  Heat will affect your speed.  You just cannot walk faster in the heat, so slow it down.  Realize that the environment is a factor in training.


Think before you drink.  This is not an ad for designated walkers, but rather a reminder that caffeine and alcohol work as diuretics, which means they increase your urine output.  These lead to dehydration.  Lower your consumption of both of these and you should be able to walk a little more comfortably. 


Some days are just not made for walking.  On unbearably hot days throw in the towel and hit the gym or the pool for a little cross-training instead.  The roads will still be there tomorrow and the body you save will be your own.

The above information is available in pdf format for downloading and printing.  Click on the following links to open the pdf documents.