9 Ways Spice Up Your Summer Walks
With summer in full swing, taking a walk outside is a convenient workout option. Trouble is, you're not always excited to get out and get moving. The solution? Spice up your fitness program with these fun new ways to walk.
1. Go glidewalking
Want to perfect your walking technique and get a better butt while doing it? Try glidewalking. "Glidewalking makes you faster, stronger, and more sure-footed so you're betterbalanced," said Esther Gokhale, creator of the Gokhale Method and author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back. It will also help you step lighter, which will make your joints feel better, and create muscle mass to help you lose weight. Even better? "It'll give you buns of steel," Gokhale said. Here's how to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with your right foot, contracting the muscles in your left butt to help propel you forward. Just before your right foot hits the ground, squeeze those left butt muscles more to help place the foot gently on the ground. Once the foot lands, relax the left butt muscles and repeat on the other side.
2. Walk in water
Take your walks into the pool, and you'll burn as many calories as you do on land. In one study, after completing 13 weeks of either walking in the shallow end of a pool, walking on land or swimming, all study participants lost significant amounts of body weight and body fat, no matter what they were doing. To make water walking more comfortable, slip on a pair of aqua shoes like Ryka's Aqua Fit 3 ($65, www.ryka.com) or the Women's Hydro Trainer Water Shoe from Speedo ($49.99, www.speedousa.com).
3. Strike a pose
Add some yoga to your walks, and you'll not only burn calories, you'll also strengthen your core, prevent joint injuries and become more flexible. That's the premise of Hiking Yoga classes, which integrate 30 minutes of yoga with 60 minutes of hiking. Although it's based in San Francisco, Hiking Yoga will be coming to other cities in the near future, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and New York City. To locate classes, hit www.hikingyoga.com.
4. Let technology move you
Tracking your heart rate, calories burned or step count while you walk could be key in getting you psyched to exercise. "Having some sort of objective feedback about your workouts can be very motivating," said Stacey Rosenfeld, chief psychologist for the New York City Triathlon. Two fun new tools to try include Sportline's Duo 1060 Dual-Use Heart Rate Monitor ($119.99, www.sportline.com), which functions as a pedometer and heart rate monitor, tracking speed, distance, step count and heart rate (which you can monitor with or without a chest strap). Or check out the Suunto M4 ($169, www.suunto.com), which allows you to choose your goals, gives you daily instruction and provides motivational feedback messages.
5. Turn your office into a gym
Sitting could be the latest health hazard. In a study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who spent more leisure time sitting had a higher risk of mortality. Women who sat more than six hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die during a 14-year period than people who sat only three hours; for men, that number dropped to 18 percent. Sitting less is the obvious solution, but what if you have a desk job? Walk while you work by using a desk built around the treadmill like the TrekDesk (www.trekdesk.com) or TreadDesk (www.treaddesk.com).
6. Pop in a DVD
You might love being outdoors in summer, but when the weather isn't cooperating, you might have to move indoors. Worried about what to do? Walking guru Leslie Sansone has the answer. Her newest DVD, Walk Off 10 Pounds, features three-mile workouts you can do in the comfort of your AC.
7. Step to the beat
Numerous studies have found that exercising to music can help you go longer and in some cases, harder. So plug in that iPod and then download iSWEAT2thebeat for some real fun. The application, which costs $0.99, ask your music preferences and then draws from a database of over 70,000 songs to find other songs with a similar feel and beat per minute. The app even shows you how to calculate your beat-per-minute pace so you can look for songs.
8. Get a canine workout buddy
Take your dog for a walk, and while it could help Fido shed pounds, you could also get fitter and healthier. In one study, dog walkers were leaner and suffered fewer chronic conditions and depressive symptoms than non-dog owners and people who owned dogs but didn't walk them. Another study found that individuals who walked their dogs five days a week for 12 weeks boosted their walking speed by 28 percent, which could lead to improved fitness. If you don't own a dog, volunteer to walk dogs at your local animal shelter or ask neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled, to walk their dogs.
9. Dance it up
Everybody needs a break from their walking program every now and then, especially when sweltering temperatures make walking outside miserable. So why not hit the water and take an AquaZumba class? It's just like regular Zumba, those wildly popular classes that combine fun dance moves with Latin and international music, but you do it in a pool. To locate AquaZumba classes, visit www.zumba.com.