Try one of these 10-minute walking tricks to stave off extra pounds.

By Anna Davies

8 Easy Ways to Stay Thin

Craving a big slice of chocolate cake? Or tempted to plop in front of the TV with a bag of chips? The next time you want to indulge in a not-so-healthy vice, take a walk instead. A recent review of 12 studies involving smokers trying to quit found that exercising for just 10 minutes a day can help ward off a craving. It may be that a short bout of exercise can cause a positive change in mood that may help fight off an unhealthy urge, says Guy Faulkner, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise psychology at the University of Toronto. While this research involved people attempting to kick a cigarette habit, the findings may also apply to those trying to eat less and exercise more. So the next time you hear a pint of ice cream calling your name, try one of these 10-minute walking tricks from Joan Pagano, author of 15-Minute Total Body Workout (DK Publishing).

  1. Cross it off. Bring your cell phone on your walk and use the 10 minutes to get something done from your to-do list. Schedule a doctor's appointment, call a friend, or navigate through a customer service maze. You'll gain a sense of accomplishment, feel more relaxed, and be less likely to open the fridge.
  2. Head to the local mall. Instead of casually window-shopping, walk briskly, pumping your arms at a 90-degree angle to get your heart rate up. Walk from one end of the mall to the other and back.
  3. Move on up. Climb a set of stairs for two minutes, followed by 30 seconds holding a "wall sit": Lean your back against the wall and then slide down into a seated position where your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible. Repeat three times.
  4. Pack your bags. Always have your walking gear together in one place so you don't waste time tracking down your sneaks or a sweatshirt when you've got 10 minutes to spare. Include a resistance band in your bag of gear and stop to do lat pulls halfway through your walk: With your arms shoulder-width apart hold the band taut above your head and then slowly extend each arm out another 6 inches. Repeat 15 times.
  5. Treat yourself. If you usually have a 3 p.m. vending-machine craving, take a walk to the nearest drugstore (or drive and park your car in the far corner of the parking lot) and splurge on a calorie-free pick-me-up, like a nail polish or a new magazine.
  6. Find an evening activity. After dinner start an active routine with your family: a 10-minute get-moving DVD game like Dance Dance Revolution or a brisk stroll around the neighborhood. No time? March in place from the opening credits to the first commercial break of your favorite show. Squeeze in your stomach (as if you were trying to fit into a slightly-too-small pair of pants) as you march to strengthen your core.
  7. Call a buddy. Make a date to walk together three days a week. Take turns playing follow-the-leader; try things like side-stepping for one minute, which will target your inner- and outer-thigh muscles.
  8. Walk to the beat. Create a playlist or choose a favorite CD that you listen to only when you work out. Vary your pace by changing music genres throughout your walking workout. For example, pair a fast Madonna dance song with something slow, like a Norah Jones track.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the November 1, 2007, issue of Family Circle magazine.