9 new walking workouts to blast fat and beat boredom
New ways to walk
When it comes to exercise, it doesn't get more simple than walking. And that's part of its appeal–just put one foot in front of the other, no gadgets or gizmos necessary. But that very simplicity can also be part of its downfall: Doing the same walking workout can bore your body as much as your mind.
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By Linda Melone, CSCS
Start your walk with a little interval training first, suggests Lee Scott, an ACE-certified trainer in Toronto, Ontario and founder of WoW Power Walking. Draw a line on the sidewalk or road with a piece of chalk (or use an identifiable starting point, such as a fire hydrant), and set your timer on your watch for 30 or 60 seconds. Walk as fast as you can from the starting line and mark your end point either with chalk or a small item. Repeat this 6 to 10 times, striving to walk a little farther each time.
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Head for the hills
Find a hill that takes between 30 seconds to 2 minutes to climb. Set your timer and walk up the hill as fast as you can. Repeat six to 10 times, striving to shave off a few seconds with each hill. The rise in intensity will burn more calories, and the competition will keep you motivated through the very end. (You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to shed pounds–a regular walking plan can help you lose 15 pounds or more. Start today with this FREE 8-week walking plan.)
Scott recommends this game for women as an alternative to running, which may be too high impact for joints. Start by power walking for 30 seconds (swing your arms and strive for a quick 4.5 mph pace–nearly a jog) and then practice high skips for a count of 16 to 24 skips. Repeat these power-walk and skipping intervals for 10 to 12 sets. (Looking for quick weight loss solutions? Check out these 25 ways to flatten your belly.)
Start walking debate with a friend
Catch up on current events (or the newest tabloid gossip; we won't judge) with a walking friend, suggests JJ Virgin, celebrity Fitness and nutrition expert. “Choose a topic and see how long you can sustain discussing it.” Or borrow from improv artists and start a funny fictional story; you start with a word or phrase, and then the other person keeps it going by adding a word, and you continue going back and forth for a mile or a set time. (Watch out for these top 10 mistakes you make on the elliptical trainer.)
Motivate yourself with a gratitude walk
Dianne J. Moore, 68, of Cadillac, MI, and her mom motivate themselves by using their daily walks as a time to reflect on the things they’re grateful for. “It might be something as simple as, ‘I'm grateful for the blue sky,’ to something deeper such as ‘I'm grateful you are staying with me for the winter’ or ‘I'm grateful for your love,’ ” says Moore. Do the same with your walking partner by alternating gratefulness statements throughout your walk–no duplicate gratitudes allowed.
Set ‘cross-country’ mileage goals
Use a pedometer to track your steps, and figuring on 2,000 steps per mile, calculate the number of steps it would take you to walk to the next state. Track your progress on a map and celebrate when you “arrive” at your destination. Challenge your friends to do the same and see who reaches their goal first. (If it's been a long time since you had any fun while exercising, check out these 5 fun fat-blasting workouts.)
Stomp it out at stoplights
Jessica Smith, star of the new Walk On: Strength and Balance DVD , suggests “funking up your walk” with simple moves you can do while waiting at red lights or at intersections: Stand with feet wide and knees slightly bent, arms by sides. Shift weight onto right foot and lift left knee towards chest. Lower leg back to start and repeat on the opposite side, shifting weight onto left foot and pulling right knee towards chest. Repeat as many times as possible, alternating sides at a quick pace, for 30 seconds. You might feel a little ridiculous doing this, but your thighs will thank you. (Flatten your belly, slim your thighs, and firm your butt in 2 weeks with our love your thighs and hips workout–without a single sit-up or squat.)
Use flower power
Judith Stock, 56, of Granada Hills, Calif, walks for 30 minutes 6 days a week. She adds interest and motivation to her walk by bringing along a flower from her home. She takes a sweet pea and pauses at various points in her walk to pose the flower at various spots, each time snapping a photo of the flower in its new location. Try this as a way to record your walk, and switch it up by walking and posing in different nearby neighborhoods. Leave the flower at the last spot you visit. (You’re sure to find at least one plan you’ll love out of our 13 best outdoor workouts ever.)
Train your brain
Stand-up comic Karen Robertson, 71, from Wildomar, Calif., uses her walk to practice new material. “I walk and read a page, then I jog and recite the page, then I walk and read the page, then I jog and recite.” If you don’t mind a few stares, try doing something similar by downloading language lessons on your iPhone or iPod and repeating the phrases out loud after a certain number of steps.
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