One of my favorite ways to exercise, besides hitting the trails, is walking in the neighborhoods around my home. There’s always lots to see whether it’s a new gardening feature, a cute little puppy, or urban wildlife like deer and foxes. Doing the same walk every day can get a little old, plus your body gets used to the same level of exercise which means you hit a plateau with your fitness.
Take advantage of the warmer temperatures in the summer to mix up your walks a bit. Maybe you could try a new route. Perhaps your neighbor would be willing to hike with you in a local park. You don’t need to change things for every walk. Aim for at least 2 walks that challenge you each week.
Changing Up Your Walk
1. Carry 2 to 3 lb. hand weights.
I found mine in the sports section at Target. One pair runs under $15. Even though the weights seem light when you start your walk, you’ll find by the end that 2 to 3 lbs. is just enough to work your legs. If you’re not comfortable carrying the weights, you can wear a weighted vest to keep your hands free.
2. Wear your baby or push a stroller.
When I had several little ones and no time to exercise by myself, I would carry a baby on my front in the Baby Bjorn, or push 2 little ones in a double jogging stroller. This works really well if you’re hitting lots of hills.
3. Find a track with exercise stations.
A track behind my children’s school has 5 exercise stations around the outside of the track. Spend a few minutes at each one, and you have a total body workout. If your track doesn’t have stations, grab some weights and some kid toys like a soccer ball and create your own exercise stations.
4. Hit the hills
I have always loved walking, running, or biking up hills. Maybe it’s a character flaw, maybe it’s because they build character and great calf muscles. Whatever it is, I include a few lower grade hills in my daily workouts, and once a week, I run the trails at a local college. These trails have some killer hills which I walk rather than run.
5. Walk normal pace, walk fast. Repeat.
Using landmarks, alternate between walking really fast for a minute and walking at your normal pace for 5 minutes. Telephone poles work best for me, though you may find mail boxes or driveways are better landmarks for you.
While I’ve recently become a running enthusiast, walking will always be a favorite way to wind down and still exercise on those days when I don’t feel like running. If your walks are getting ho hum, make a change to 2 of your walks each week to prevent your fitness level from plateauing. Changing how you walk will also keep you inspired and out there walking.
Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.