Boost Your Walking Routine this Winter
Talk to your health care provider before beginning any exercise program and then try these tips from Maggie Spilner, a fitness expert and the author of three books on walking
If winter weather is keeping you from getting the exercise you need, try these indoor options. Tip: buddy up! Walking with a friend can up your motivation and make the time fly.
These inexpensive alternatives to gyms and treadmills allow you to exercise in the privacy of your home. Walking DVDs are simple to follow but effective in raising your heart rate. Resistance moves and variety in step and tempo keep you on your toes. Modifications for beginners are standard. Here are three great videos that work for a variety of fitness levels:
- Leslie Sansone's Ultimate 5 Day Walk Plan has five workouts, ranging from one to five miles, plus four short strength-training segments and a full-body stretch. Leslie's friendly coaching and health advice are motivating. Plus, you can mix and match segments to create a customized workout, and the newest versions have multiple programs on one disc.
- The Biggest Loser: Power Walk features trainer Bob Harper in four increasingly difficult one-mile walks and a cool down. Optional higher-impact moves, strength moves and high-intensity intervals challenge more fit walkers.
- ShapelyGirl: Walking Fit and Fabulous! is led by exercise physiologist Debra Mazda, who used to weigh more than 300 pounds. You get three different walking workouts, plus a 12-minute standing ab workout and an inspirational segment where her backup team of plus-size women share their feelings about workouts and health.
Tip: Don't strain to add optional challenges to any workout. Increasing your fitness level gradually protects you from injury.
In addition to health clubs, local schools and community centers may have indoor tracks that you can use. These allow you to walk safely to music, practice race-walking techniques and do interval training. As you walk, you can add walking lunges, side steps or other moves and no one will look at you oddlyas they might if you were doing lunges while walking down your block!In some gyms, barbells are placed in a convenient location for circuit training between laps.Tip: When it's icy or wet outside, make sure your soles are dry before you start your indoor walk to prevent slipping.
These have a reputation for being excellent clothes hangers, but a 2011 Consumer Reports survey found that people do dust off their treadmills regularly, many using them three hours a week or more.
Walkers can get away with lower-priced folding models, averaging around $1,000. Runners and people over 225 pounds should upgrade to something sturdier, perhaps in the $1,500 range.
Consumer Reports' latest top-rated budget model for walkers is the NordicTrack C900 PRO ($999, nordictrack.com). Next in are the ProForm Power 995 ($999, proform.com) and AFG 3.1AT ($1,099.99, afgfitness.com).
Listen to music, watch the news, hop on while the laundry dries. But note: Anything more energetic than a stroll and interval training require your focused attention.
If you are a more fit walker, try a 10-minute warm-up, then 30 seconds of all-out walking or jogging. Follow that with 30 seconds of movement at a more comfortable pace. Build up to 10 minutes of 3030 training, followed by a cool down. Tip: For the best workout, avoid leaning on the console. Use the handrails only if you need help with balance.
From our sister publication Diabetes Focus Winter 2012