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Join Our Move to Improve Initiative!

Family Circle has teamed up with Partnership for a Healthier America, a DC-based nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood obesity, to get everyone moving more in 2017. After all, PHA is just as committed as we are to supporting families and children in making healthy happen. Get on board by joining our Move to Improve initiative. Whenever you head out for a walk (or run or bike ride), log your journey with the Charity Miles app (charitymiles.org/movetoimprove). And don’t forget to get the kids to join you! We’re aiming for 20.17 million miles of movement in 2017. Help us get there!

If the thought of a boot camp session makes you want to collapse onto your couch, this news will give you strength. While challenging workouts do a body good, research shows walking is all you need to live a long, healthy life. Provided you have a pair of sneakers, you’re ready to hit the pavement—and when you do, we hope you’ll join our Move to Improve initiative. Our goal is to help our readers walk 20.17 million miles in 2017! Take the first step with us this month using one of our plans to boost your step count. Then look for stories in our April and May issues as we continue the challenge. We’ll help you put one foot in front of the other with more walking workouts, motivating stories and our best get-fit tricks.

For motivation-boosting phone apps, click here.

1. The Beginner’s Guide

“If you’re just getting started, don’t focus so much on the 10,000 steps a day rule,” says trainer Galina Denzel, coauthor of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well. “For those who typically stroll 2,500 steps a day, just increasing to 5,000 steps a day is an incredibly significant victory with major health boosts.” One study showed that going from no exercise to brisk walking for a little over an hour a week (that’s just 10 minutes a day) can add nearly two years to your life. Stand up, walk out the door and start Denzel’s 30-minute walking plan that keeps you entertained while you’re exercising.

YOUR GOAL Hit 2,000 steps in 30 minutes.

YOUR PLAN

Follow this walking plan three times a week, each time trying to add an extra 200 steps to the 30-minute time frame.

0 to 5 minutes: Warm up by walking at a comfortable pace (on a scale of 1 to 10 it should feel like a 4) toward a destination 15 minutes away. Pick a route with lush, green surroundings if you can: Research shows it can boost your mood.

5 to 15 Minutes: Kick up your pace to a 6 while being mindful of your breath and taking any tension out of your posture. Think about walking with a bit more purpose, as if you want to get to your destination on time.

Rest: When you reach your target area, pause. Notice whether you are breathing faster. If you feel like you exerted yourself quite a bit, rest in place for 2 to 3 minutes before heading back. If you didn’t feel particularly challenged, pick up your pace on your return trip.

15 to 20 Minutes: Resume walking at a comfortable pace (it should feel like a 4 or 5). For each minute, recall a favorite memory you have with a different person in your life—like the wedding toast your best friend gave.

20 to 30 Minutes: Become aware of your pace, which should feel pleasant not painful, and remember to put more effort into it.

2. The Score More Steps Strategy

Reap better results (in less time) using this simple trick: power walking. It’s as easy as pumping your arms and walking with authority. “Power walking can be more challenging than jogging because you’re pushing your body without allowing it to leap into a more relaxed jogging gait,” explains Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery. Try Olson’s 20-minute routine for picking up the pace. For the first two weeks of this plan, count your steps over 20 minutes. For the following two weeks, increase your pace so that you’re clocking the same number of steps in 18 minutes. For the last two weeks, try to hit the same number of steps in just 15 minutes, but use the last 5 minutes as a cool-down or recovery since your workout will have been more challenging.

YOUR GOAL: Hit 2,800 steps in 20 minutes.

YOUR PLAN

MINUTES ACTIVITY RPE*
0-3 Warm-up (feels like window shopping) 2-3
3-7 Walk with more purpose 4-5
7-10 Brisk walk 6-7
10-11 Power walk 8
11-12 Recovery pace 5
12-13 Power walk 8
13-14 Recovery pace 5
14-15 Power walk 8
15-16 Recovery pace 5
16-17 Power walk 8
17-18 Recovery pace 5
18-19 Power walk 8
19-20 Recovery pace 5

*RPE (rate of perceived exertion): To gauge how hard you’re working and the intensity of your workout, gauge how you feel on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being easiest and 10 the most challenging.

3. The Burn More Calories Plan

We’d all like to join in on those #TransformationTuesday Instagram posts. Here’s one way to do it. Skip the steady pace you’re used to and start interval training. Varying your pace doesn’t just keep things interesting—bursts of more challenging segments increase your heart rate and spike your metabolism. “When you’re doing spurts of different speeds, your body never adjusts to the workout so your calorie burn is on overdrive trying to guess what’s next,” says Equinox trainer Lisa Kinder, creator of the DVD 10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training. “You’re also less likely to feel as if you’re watching the time creep by, and you’ll be motivated by the changing pace and the recovery that comes after each spurt.” To turn up the intensity as you become fitter, increase the treadmill grade to match the terrain of the outdoors. 

YOUR GOAL: Hit 3,000 to 3,500 steps in 30 minutes.

YOUR PLAN

MINUTES/INCLINE SPEED (MPH) ACTIVITY
0-2 / 1% 3.0 Warm-up: Use this time to find the buttons for incline and speed.
2-4 / 5% 3.5 Brisk walking: Focus on stride, pumping your arms. (You should be able to talk but not carry on a conversation.)
4-5 / 5% 3.8 Increase your pace so that walking becomes a little more challenging—try to focus on your breathing.
5-6 / 5%-7% 4.0 Interval speed burst
6-7 / 6%-8% 3.8 Speed-walking climb
7-8 / 7%-9% 3.6 Interval climb
8-9 / 8%-10% 3.2 Interval burst climb
9-10 / 3% 3.0-3.2 Active walk/recovery
10-12 / 7%-9% 3.6-4.0 Interval burst climb
12-14 / 6%-8% 3.8-4.2 Speed-walking climb
14-16 / 5%-7% 4.0-4.4 Interval speed burst
16-18 / 5%-7% 4.4-4.8 Speed-walking/light jog climb
18-20 / 6%-8% 4.0-4.4 Interval burst climb
20-22 / 4% 3.2-3.4 Active walk/recovery
22-25 / 5%-7% 4.4-4.8 Speed-walking/light jog climb
25-28 / 6%-8% 4.0-4.4 Interval burst climb
28-30 / 1% 3.2-3.5 Cool-down

 

 

4. The Better Body Blueprint

Once you know the benefits of defying gravity, you’ll be heading for the hills! According to Arizona State University research, walking on an incline or on a route that takes you up actual hills will help you burn 60% more calories than you would on level ground. Insert smile emoji. “The incline forces your body to engage all your lower body muscles as you propel yourself against gravity,” explains trainer Khristie Gass, a Reebok FitPro. “You’ll increase your aerobic capacity, boosting your endurance so you can handle more challenging workouts as time goes on.” This is a win-win: burning more calories and building more muscle. Luckily, what goes up must come down, so once the hard work is over you’ll enjoy a break as you descend. Give Gass’ 20-minute uphill battle plan a try.

YOUR GOAL: Hit 2,000 steps in 20 minutes.

YOUR PLAN: If you have a hill or set of stairs near you, here’s how to use it! If you’re hitting the treadmill, use a 5% incline and a slow pace when directed to go uphill and clip on the emergency-stop pull cord for safety.

MINUTES ACTIVITY RPE
0-3 Walk up and down the hill 3
3-8 Go up the hill doing walking lunges with a brisk walk downhill 8
8-10 Facing left, go up the hill side-stepping (stay facing the same way for the descent) 5
10-12 Facing right, go up the hill side-stepping (stay facing the same way for the descent) 5
12-14 Go uphill doing high knees with a brisk walk downhill 8
14-16 Go uphill walking backward (hold arms out to sides for balance) with a brisk walk downhill 6
16-20 Power walk up and down the hill 5

 

More Tips and Inspo

  • Use a treadmill for just 60 seconds to be able to judge your speed when you’re walking outdoors. “When you’re on a treadmill, set the speed to 4 mph (a 15-minute mile) and count the steps you take in 1 full minute,” explains Olson. “Then go outside and see if your steps match.” To pick up the pace, try adding 5 to 10 more steps a minute.
  • Walking isn’t just going to tone your tush, it’ll trim your middle too. In one small study, women who did three high-intensity plus two moderately paced walks or jogs a week lost significant amounts of belly fat compared to participants who strolled five days a week at low intensity.
  • Research shows that even a 5-minute stroll outdoors (yes, 5 minutes—you read that right!) can be a major mood booster.
  • Fake a walk in the park: A 1% incline while running on a treadmill reflects the energy cost of running outside, says research. So crank up the slope on your strolls.
  • A 145-pound woman’s arms weigh about 15 pounds each. If you’re pumping them actively away from gravity as you walk, you’ll burn more calories.