Take a hike! No, we’re not telling you to get lost. What we’re saying is that walking is a cheap and easy way to lose weight. It’s a smart exercise for people of any fitness level, but it’s an especially good way for workout newbies to ease into a fitness routine. Read on for eight ways to walk your way to a fitter, firmer body.
1. Brisk is Best. Start by walking briskly for about 30 minutes each day. (It’s okay to start with shorter walking periods or at a less brisk pace, if necessary.) Walking for fitness is not an inconvenience or a bother. It’s an investment in your body, and one that will pay off in a stronger, healthier you.
2. Be weather ready. Walk in the early morning or later evening during hot weather, wear moisture-wicking clothes, and remember to wear sunblock and a hat to protect your skin. (Check out our Skinny Ms. picks for natural sunscreens.) For cold weather walks, dress in layers you can remove as the body warms up, and protect your hands and ears from the cold. Cruddy weather? No excuses. Hit the mall or a treadmill for a few indoor laps.
3. Variety. Walk your way fit by injecting variety into your routine. For example, alternate between a brisk walk one day and a race walk the next. For more, check out these 7 Ways to Walk Your Way Fit.
4. Break a sweat. If you have a lot of weight to lose, it’s fine to move at a slower pace at first. However, to maximize calorie burn, you’ll need to make walking an aerobic exercise that works the heart, lungs, and muscles. Plan to walk at your target heart rate for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. (Find your estimated target heart rate.)
5. Put bounce in your step. Nothing gives you a little bounce more than good tunes. We love playlists at Skinny Ms. Get your heart and muscles pumping with this Workout & Running Playlist with Music for Everyone.
6. Get heavy. With weights, that is. Adding extra weight will boost calorie burn. For instance, walk while carrying 2-3 pound dumbbells at chest level to work the shoulders, quads, abs, and glutes.
7. Make it a habit. Walking is one of those activities that can become an instant, cheap, and good-for-you habit. Make it a personal policy to walk whenever possible. Take the stairs. Walk around the building over lunch break. Never drive when you can hoof it! You may soon be ready to move into running. Check out Running Tips for Absolute Beginners, then print out the 18 Week Training Schedule, and you will be running your first half-marathon in 18 weeks.
8. Live healthy! When it comes to losing weight, regular exercise is half the battle. Cut out the processed foods that flood the body with too much sugar, salt, and chemical additives. (Check out these 9 Foods to Never Eat Again.) Keep an eye on portion sizes. Eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats. And, yes, healthy food can be yummy. Try Caramelized Onion Sliders with BBQ Chicken or this Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken.
So, where will you walk today?