Tips from Michele Stanten, a fitness expert, walking coach, and author of three books on exercise

You know walking is good for you, but that doesn't mean it's easy to get out the door. Now a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows just how important it is to get on your feet most days of the week.

When researchers reviewed data on about 32,000 women, they found that in women over the age of 30, inactivity leads to a higher risk for heart disease than smoking, being overweight, or having high blood pressure. (Yes, you read that correctly: Too much time spent lounging is more harmful than cigarettes!)

Walking the same old route the same old way, however, is bound to lead to boredom—and that can keep you from wanting to get off the couch in the first place. Ad some variety to your walking routine with these five fun strategies.

  1. Play Beat the Clock. Challenge yourself to complete a route in a specific amount of time, and then aim to finish a little faster each day. Even a 30-second improvement is worth celebrating. The faster you walk, the more calories you'll burn per minute, too!
  2. Explore New Areas. Instead of your usual loop, try something new. Head to a park or trail, or explore a different neighborhood; the change of scenery can be invigorating. Or get a new perspective on your tried-and-true path by walking it at a different time of day or in reverse.
  3. Do Good for Yourself & Others. With the free app Charity Miles, you'll earn 25 cents for charity for every mile you walk. There are more than a dozen charities to choose from, including Habitat for Humanity, Autism Speaks and Pencils of Promise. The more you walk, the more you help.
  4. Reap a Reward. Invite a friend to join you for lunch, a movie, a manicure or some shopping—but you have to walk to get there. If the location isn't within walking distance from your home, drive part of the way and park about a 20- to 30-minute walk away from your destination. Walking together also gives you time to chat and catch up.
  5. Hunt for Hidden Treasure. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt. Download the app and learn the rules at geocaching.com. Then, choose an appealing geocache in your area and use any GPS-enabled device, such as your smart phone, to find it. You'll get a physical and mental workout as you navigate your way and search to locate the geocache container.

Source: from our sister publication Diabetes Focus Fall 2014

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 30 Jul 2014

Last Modified: 17 Mar 2015