As we get older there are certain exercises that just get too hard on the joints, running is one of those that some women in midlife struggle with.
Now that doesn’t mean that you need to toss your running shoes, it just means that your methods may need to change a bit.
For me, I decided to do less running and add in a little more walking as my go-to choice of cardio.
Does that mean I’m no longer going to run - definitely not, it just means I now have more variety when taking my workouts outside!!
Walking is a great option for women looking to stay healthy and want cardio without the high impact.
Walking isn’t just enjoyable, it’s super healthy. It’s free, it’s easily accessible, and works for all fitness levels!
And, YES it can help you lose a few extra pounds!!
Paired with a solid nutrition plan (not a diet - just healthy eating) walking can help you lose fat (even that stubborn belly fat) with a little increased focus on intensity, frequency, and duration of your walks.
A consistent walking routine offers benefits that go beyond fat loss.
For one thing, walking is good for your heart: According to a 2018 study, walking briskly for at least 40 minutes two or three times per week is associated with a near 25% drop in heart failure risk among post-menopausal women.
Additionally, research in people with Type 2 diabetes reveals increasing physical activity levels improves blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight.
Start off simple and slowly increase your distance and speed to prevent injuries.
If you’re just starting out - start with only 10 minutes. Do that for a few days then increase your overall time to 13-15 minutes. Slowly increase your time after completing 3-5 walks by an additional 5 minutes. Try walking for a minimum of 30 minutes 5 days a week.
Here are a few ways to FIRE UP your daily walks once you are ready:
🔥 Incorporating hills. Inclines not only add a little variety, they fire up your heart rate allowing you to burn more calories and improve your heart health!!
🔥 Use hand weights, ankle weights, or a weighted vest to add a little extra fire.
🔥 Add stairs/steps when possible
🔥 Try fartlek or interval walks. Fartlek intervals alternate periods of varied speed. Try walking at an increased pace for 2 minutes, slow down for 3 minutes, and repeat. As you build your endurance increase your higher intensity times and decrease the lower intensity.
🔥 Make it a circuit - every quarter mile complete 1 exercise (example squats, squat jumps, push ups, calf raises, burpees, etc.). To really fire up your walk complete 1 move then the next quarter mile make it two moves (5 squats plus 10 jumping jacks) then make it three moves (5 squats, 10 jumping jacks, 5 push ups) until you are up to 4 moves every quarter mile! **Choose moves that work with your fitness level. Start off small like 10 marching high knees or curb steps ups and build as you begin to feel stronger!
🔥 Venture out to a trail or park that offers an obstacle course with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and biking
🔥 Challenge yourself to slowly increase your overall pace. Covering the same distance in a shorter time.
🔥 And most importantly, be consistent. Make walking a regular part of your weekly fitness routine.
And if you love walking but the summer heat kicks your butt - here are few tips to staying active in the summertime:
- Do it earlier before it gets too hot outside
- Try an evening walk as the sun is setting
- Try moving indoors. Beside the gym’s treadmill there are other ways to move your body in doors. Check your local mall, some malls open their doors early for walkers. Or look to see if your area has an indoor track.
- Look for a covered outdoor area - a covered parking lot, outdoor shopping center with overhangs, a trail with lots of trees. Think outside the box
- Find other ways to get in your steps - park farther, add a step to your office space that you use while working, on calls, or during short breaks.
- Be flexible - you may have to swap out a walk in the heat for a bike ride, a swim, or a cardio HIIT session in the air conditioning. Remember, be stubborn with your goals but flexible with your methods!!
Here are 3 of my favorite walking workouts
Workout 1: Interval Speed Play [Fast/Faster/Fastest pace]
Fast pace is a comfortable aerobic pace (that means you are doing more than strolling. You're heart rate should be up a bit)
Faster pace = increase slightly but able to talk comfortable
Fastest is your fastest walking pace (Think Olympic sport speed walking)
3 min warm up easy pace
2 min Fast
1 min Faster
30 sec Fastest
2 min Faster
3 min Fast
30 sec Fastest
Repeat the six intervals after the warm up 2-4 times
finish with a nice cool down pace
Workout 2: Drop it like it's hot
Walk at your aerobic cardio pace for 5 min to get warmed up
Then every 3 minutes complete 5 squats, continue to walk at an aerobic pace
Repeat for 30 minutes or more depending on your walk
Finish with a nice easy cool down pace 2-4 minutes
Workout 3: Full Body (15 min repeat 1 time for 30 min of work)
3 min warm up easy to moderate pace
1 min moderate to fast pace
30 sec fastest pace
30 sec jumping jacks
1 min moderate to face pace
30 sec squats or burpees
2 min easy to moderate pace
30 sec fastest pace
30 sec push ups or high knees
2 min moderate to fast pace
3 min easy to moderate pace to cool down
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