Shape Up With a No-Gym and No-Excuses Workout
Whatever your fitness goal is—to lose weight, get your heart beating faster or just to boost your mood—nothing beats getting physical. A recent study from the U.K. reviewed four years' worth of health research and found that engaging in brisk exercise for about 30 minutes on most days not only makes you less likely to become overweight or obese but also decreases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Thirty minutes of physical activity was even found to decrease the risk of certain cancers, and if you can increase your workout to an hour your risk of cancer falls by 16 percent.
Getting Started with Your Exercise Program
Ready to get started? These routines can ease almost anyone into walking (check with your doctor to make sure fitness walking is right for you).
- Burn calories at home The easiest way to start walking is with a 10-minute walk-in-place. Listen to some upbeat, inspiring music—like "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift or "Vertigo" by U2—and walk in place to the beat for 10 minutes. Mix it up with side-steps, knee-raises and gentle kicks to raise your heart rate. Then start pumping those arms at about waist height and touching your knees during knee-raises. Slow down to cool off for the last minute or two.
- Grab a mile at the mall This is a great walk for early morning, when the mall is still relatively empty. Instead of shopping or snacking, walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes—that's about one mile. (If you wear a pedometer you'll know you've reached the mile mark when you take your 2,000th step!)
- Push yourself with a partner Once you've mastered the 10-minute walk-in-place and the 15-minute mall mile, it's time to push yourself, and there's no better way to do that than finding a walking partner who shares your goals. Schedule a regular meeting time and place—at home, at the mall or a safe sidewalk or nature trail—and agree to walk for 30 minutes (about two miles) five times a week.
- Work off a meal Whether you're jump-starting your morning, grabbing some "me time" on your lunch hour or taking an after-dinner stroll with a loved one, walking off some of the calories in a meal is a great habit. Remember, this walk is a two-way street, with a well-balanced meal helping to fuel your workout and your workout ensuring healthy digestion.
Boost Your Walk!
Carry Light Weights
Gentle strength- training while you walk—with one-pound dumbbells or hand weights—gives your upper body a workout, too, and building muscle mass helps boost your metabolism so you burn more calories. Ask your doctor what kind of weights are right for you—and what your limitations are.
Wear Moisture-wicking Socks
Try a synthetic fabric that wicks away wetness, such as acrylic, nylon or Lycra. (While new cotton socks provide nice cushioning and moisture absorption, they thin out with wear and can give you blisters.)
Buy Comfy Shoes
Every mile you walk—whether it’s at home or on the go—is a whopping 2,000 steps. To avoid foot and back pain, invest in a pair of walking shoes that cushion your heel and have an arch that matches your foot’s contours. Replace them every 400 miles. (If you’re walking two miles five times a week, that’s about every nine months.)
Strap on a Pedometer
Research suggests that wearing a pedometer and counting how many steps you take each day is an effective fitness tool. Structured walking—devoting a certain amount of time each day—is one of the best ways to get to the 10,000 daily steps recommended by health experts.
Written by: Leslie Sansone, founder of the Walk at Home exercise program and teacher of walking based fitness classes.
From our sister publication, REMEDY (Summer 2011)