Take your workouts up a notch with these tips.

By Jennifer R. Beck

Boost Your Calorie Burn

Pumping up the intensity of your walks (even just slightly) will help you burn more calories and lose excess weight, says Mark Fenton, walking expert and author of Walking Magazine: The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness (Lyons Press). Plus, taking your workouts up a notch will reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. The key is to get your ticker beating a little harder. Here's how:

  1. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 226. For example, a 40-year-old woman's estimated max heart rate is 186 beats per minute. (If you're walking with your husband, have him subtract his age from 220).
  2. Track your heart rate with a device like the Life Fitness Dual Watch & Heart Rate Monitor (lifefitness.com), which determines your current heart rate in 3 to 8 seconds when you press on its sensors. (Or measure it the old-fashioned way by putting a finger to your wrist or neck and counting for 10 seconds, then multiply the number of beats by 6 to determine your beats per minute.)
  3. Start taking "Walk 1" a few times a week, working up to 5 days a week. When you're ready for a challenge, add "Walk 2" one or two days each week. (Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.)

Walk 1: Begin at your normal pace for 5 minutes. Speed it up to 60%-70% of your maximum heart rate for 20 minutes (for a 40-year-old woman this would be about 110 to 125 beats per minute). Then slow it down for 5 minutes. An average woman can burn about 120 calories during this 30-minute walk.

Walk 2: Walk at a normal pace for 10 minutes, then move quickly to bring your heart rate up to 70%-75% of your max heart rate for 40 minutes. Cool down for 10 minutes. This intense walk can burn up to 400 calories.

The Beat Is On

Motivate yourself to move a bit faster with these new gadgets.

  1. Forget about downloading music. The Sansa e200R Rhapsody Series MP3 players come preloaded with hundreds of songs by artists ranging from the Dixie Chicks to U2, so you can enjoy it right out of the box. (scandisk.com)
  2. Make sure you're aware of what's going on around you while you walk — especially honking horns. AirDrives stereo headphones help you to hear background noise while enjoying great-sounding audio. (airdrives.com)
  3. Don't let a slow song break your momentum. The BodiBeat MP3 player has a tiny sensor you place on your ear that monitors your heart rate and finds a song that matches it. (bodibeat.com)

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the October 17, 2007, issue of Family Circle magazine.