Walk to a Healthier, Slimmer You

Maximize this basic aerobic exercise for lasting results.

from Stealth Health

25. Split it up. When you’re too busy to go for your usual 30- to 60-minute walk, split it up and get out there for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. That may be as simple as taking a 5-minute walk break around the building after completing a big project at work. Such short walking breaks will refresh your mind, so you can return to work with more vigor. In fact, research shows that most of us can only focus at top capacity for 30 minutes at a time. After that, concentration begins to drop off. Your intermittent walk breaks may actually make you more productive!

26. Shop at the mall instead of online. Walking around the mall can burn about 200 calories an hour, much more than what you will burn sitting on your tush as you surf the Net for great deals. You can increase the effectiveness of your walk and shop time by doing a lap around the mall between store visits.

27. Walk and talk. Use a cordless phone and walk around the house as you chat with friends or conduct your business. This is a great way to make use of those long times spent on hold with the IRS, phone company, or Internet service provider. Not only will you get some heart-healthy exercise, but the exercise will help you maintain your mental cool. Use your pedometer to count your steps and you’ll get the added bonus of feeling like you accomplished something rather than just wasting time.

28. Walk faster earlier in your walk. If you want to increase the amount of fat you burn during your walk, add some bursts of faster walking toward the beginning of your walk. Many walkers wait until the end of the walk to speed up, treating their faster walking as a finishing kick. Yet a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that exercisers burned more fat and felt less fatigued when they inserted their faster segments toward the beginning of a workout. It works because you speed up your heart rate early and keep it elevated for the rest of your walk.

29. Feel each muscle you use in your walk. Concentrate on different muscle areas: calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. Feel the movement in each area as you walk. The motivation you’ll get from realizing the bang you’re getting for your walking buck (all those muscles!) will keep you walking longer.

30. Take light weights (3 to 5 pounds) on your walks. Periodically work in arm exercises as you walk. This does more than increase the benefit of the workout. Carrying weights also builds muscle, and each pound of muscle burns about 30-50 more calories a day. Build a couple of pounds of muscle in your arms alone and you’ll burn an extra 100 calories a day — even while you’re just channel surfing. Not into weights? Try isometric exercises of the arms, chest, and abdominal muscles. For instance, as you walk, go through the motion of throwing a punch in slow motion. As you extend your arm, tense the muscles along it and do the same as you retract it. You should feel tension in your triceps, biceps, deltoids, and pectoral muscles. Then repeat with your arms going straight up and down, or out to the side, rather than straight ahead. You can also tense your chest muscles by bringing your hands together in front of your body and contracting across the chest and shoulders. Do this rhythmically to match your gait. Also try doing curls with no weights. Simply curl your arms alternately, in rhythm with your gait. Each time you curl your forearms, tense your biceps.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail