Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise, but even the easiest and best can get boring at times. Think of vacation time as the perfect time to refresh your routine, and perhaps do it in less time. Weight Watchers magazine (July/August 2011) came up with some solutions that I probably wouldn’t have thought of myself.
Vacationing at the beach? What about a long walk on the beach? You can swap your usual 30 minute walk for a 15 minute beach walk. If you have ever tried walking on sand you know that it isn’t as easy as you might imagine. Walking on sand makes you burn up to 50% more calories than your regular walk. The muscles in your butt, thighs, feet and ankles have to work a lot harder to push off in the soft sand. Plus, the uneven surface requires a stable core, so you are strengthening your abs at the same time. The author recommends wearing sneakers so that you don’t hurt your feet on hidden shells or bits of debris. The shoe also supports your feet and ankles as you stride along. Start slowly and do a shorter distance than you are accustomed too. If you are walking on soft sand and/or barefooted you will want to cut back even further. Loose stand is unstable so walking on it versus the harder packed section places additional stress on the body. Start your program wearing sneakers and walking on the firm sand closer to the water edges. Walking on sand makes your muscles work harder.
A pool walk: I actually tried this in a roped off swimming are on Waikiki Beach. It is fun but it is a lot of work. Swap your 40 minute walk for a 20 minute pool walk. Water walking is a good low impact cardio workout. It also tones your entire body and increases your flexibility. Walking one mile in the water burns the same number of calories as walking two miles on land. Since the water is denser than air, walking through water provides resistance. Look for a pool that has a shallow area (4 feet is idea) for walking. I actually did it in chest high sea water and had to use my hand to move ahead so not sure if that is the same or not. The good part is you don’t have to know how to swim and you don’t have to get your hair wet. Nearly anyone can water walk. When you walk in water at mid-thigh levels, at 3 mph pace you burn almost twice as many calories as on land. Start in the shallow end and walk slowly. Over time, walk in deeper water and walk faster. Lean forward slightly and walk toe to heel to heel (not just on tiptoes). Walk or jog forward and backwards or even sideways.
Jumping rope: This isn’t for everyone but in terms of fast calorie burn it is second only to running. If you are reasonably well coordinated it is easy. Jumping rope tones everything, it is cheap and you can do it anywhere. Wear support cross-trainers while jumping rope as they are made for sports where you are bouncing on the balls of your feet. If you experience knee pain you are jumping too high. You should aim to jump just an inch or two off the ground.
Interval Walking: Swap your 60 minute walk for a 30 minute interval walk. You get more for your walk if you incorporate intervals (brief, high-intensity bursts of speed alternating with slower recovery phases). Intervals are a good way to burn more calories and build endurance at the same time. A 30 minute interval walk burns as many calories as a 60 minute walk. This is hard work though. During your bursts of speed you should be moving quite quickly. The easiest way to do this is by listening to an interval walking program audio.
Well, what do you think? A little variety may be just what the doctor (or your trainer) ordered.