Everybody needs an ego boost every now and then, and combining walking with strength training is the perfect strategy. “Increased strength and cardiovascular endurance maximize your self-efficacy, which makes you more confident,” says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist based in Connecticut and star of Tom Holland’s Total Body Workout on video and DVD (www.teamholland.com).
Of the two activities, strength training may play a larger role in lifting your spirits. Why? It often provides faster, more noticeable benefits than walking. Along with added definition in your arms and legs, you’ll have more strength to perform everyday activities like lifting and carrying objects that were once too difficult. That alone should give you an immediate surge of confidence, says Holland, who created this mood-lifting routine combining walking and strength training.
The Feel-Great Plan
- Warm up with an easy walk for 5 minutes.
- Walk at a moderate pace for 10 to 15 minutes. Try to end up at a park or someplace with a bench.
- Do the circuit shown below, performing 10 reps of each exercise. Rest, then do a second set of 10 reps of each.
- Walk for 10 minutes at a moderate pace.
- Cool down by walking an easy pace for 5 minutes.
Stand facing a bench. Place your hands on the bench and extend your legs behind you (heels, hips and head in line). Your hands should be a little wider than your shoulders. Keeping your abdominals contracted so your back doesn’t sag, lower your chest toward the bench until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees. Push up and repeat.
Stand in front of a bench that’s no higher than your knees. (You can also use a curb.) Keeping your knees over your ankles, step your left foot and then your right foot on the bench. Step down first with the right foot, then the left foot. Repeat 5 times with the left foot leading, then switch and repeat 5 times with the right foot leading.
Stand with your feet hip width apart, arms extended at shoulder height. Look forward. Contract your abdominals and shift your weight back into your heels to help your knees stay behind your toes. Keeping your chest lifted, lower as if you’re about to sit in a chair until your thighs are just about parallel to the ground. Return to starting position and repeat.
Sit on the edge of a bench with your back straight and only your toes touching the ground. Lean back slightly, contract your abs and slowly lift both feet several inches off the ground. Hold for 2 counts and then lower. Repeat.
Sit on a bench with hands at your sides. Walk your feet away from the bench until they are flat on the ground. Lift your body off the bench so only your hands and your feet support you. Slowly lower your body a few inches toward the ground. Push yourself back up and repeat.