Fitness Articles

When Walking Isn't Enough

How to Add Variety to Your Walking Program


Whether your primary goal is burning calories to lose weight, enhancing your fitness level, improving your ability to do a wide range of daily activities, or (ideally) all of the above, the basic approach is the same. You need to:
  • Keep your heart rate up in your aerobic training zone for a minimum of 30 minutes, three days per week. (More is better, and those minutes can be accumulated in multiple bouts throughout the day, if necessary.)
  • Exercise all your major muscle groups in a variety of ways.
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry—it’s not as complicated or difficult as it sounds. The solution may be as simple as incorporating a little jogging into your existing walking routine. SparkPeople's Beginner's Guide to Running can help you get started. But if running don’t work for you, there are literally hundreds of pre-designed workout programs you can try, whatever your current fitness level. Here are some possibilities to consider:

For those who like group activities, there are many fitness classes that will fill help you meet your cardio goals, including step, dance, Tae Bo, Tae Kwan Do, Spinning (indoor cycling) and water aerobics. You are always in control of how hard you work in these classes, so don’t be put off if some of the class members can do more than you can right now—it’s not about keeping up with others. You can incorporate different kinds of classes into your program, so that you can also work on flexibility and strength training too. Most gyms and health clubs offer a variety of classes and schedules, and you don’t necessarily need to sign long-term contracts or pay extra to try classes.

If you prefer work out solo, then cardio machines like the elliptical, Gazelle, stair climber, stationary bike, and rowing machine can all get your heart rate up. They come in commercial (for gyms) and personal (for home) models. You may need a little help to figure out how to use these machines the first time around, so don’t hesitate to ask for assistance, whether at the gym or in the sporting goods store. Swimming and outdoor cycling are also great, low-impact exercises.

And if exercising at home is your thing, there are literally thousands of affordable exercise videos on the market that will guide you through effective cardio routines.

Walking is a great way to add more activity to your day, and everyone should try to take as many steps as possible for better health. But as you can see, there are many reasons and ways to expand your exercise program beyond walking alone. Remember to also include strength training and stretching in your exercise program along with your cardio exercises. If you have specific questions about what might be best for you, you can post them on the Fitness and Exercise Message Boards, where SparkPeople's coaches and members will be happy to help you design the best exercise program to meet your goals.

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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

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