If you’re new to vigorous activity, start slow and easy--be sure you’re comfortable with the walking and general movement advice in the earlier chapters before trying to do more. Then introduce small advances, easing up when you feel you need a break. If you have high blood pressure, avoid caffeinated beverages before vigorous activity, since caffeine further increases heart rate and blood pressure. Finally, be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it. You want to feel good enough tomorrow to do it again.
1. Sneak in surges
The next time you’re out walking, and you’re warmed up, pick up the pace for 1 to 2 minutes. Slow down to take a breather, then repeat. You’ll not only burn more calories, you’ll also condition your body to feel comfortable at a faster pace so you’ll be able to move more briskly every time you walk.
2. Power clean
A grimy house is better than Gold’s Gym. Spin your favorite CDs, grab the cleaning supplies, and don’t break ’til the last dust speck is spoken for. Alternate between upstairs and downstairs chores (instead of one floor at a time) to take advantage of the stairs--your home’s best calorie burner.
3. Step to it
Whenever you see a set of stairs, take them. If there’s time, go back down and take them again. If flexibility and balance aren’t an issue, take two steps at a time. It’s an easy way to get a burst of exercise intensity every day.
4. Head for the hills
Walking or riding a bike uphill means working harder against gravity--an added
challenge for your muscles, heart, and lungs. Tackle some inclines (start with
gentle ones) once or twice a week. When walking uphill, lean forward slightly to
engage your powerful glute muscles. Walking downhill can be harder on your
knees, so slow your pace, keep your knees slightly bent, and take shorter steps.
5. Dance, dance, dance
Whether you fancy the Pennsylvania Polka or a tango for two, dancing burns 480 calories an hour, uses your muscles in new ways, and puts joy in your heart. Some cardiologists say their patients who dance are the healthiest of the bunch. Make a date to go out twice a month.
6. Make a splash
The next time you’re at the pool or beach, put down the murder mystery and dive in. Water is 800 times denser than air, so it provides instant intensity--and keeps you cool while you work out. Wade into the water about chest deep and try these moves.
Side kicks. Bend your right knee and then, without lowering it, kick out to the side, leaning toward the left as you kick. Lower your leg and repeat. Do 15 to 25 reps, then switch legs.
High steps. March quickly across the pool, raising your knees as high as possible as you step. Then march back.
Zigzag run. Pump your arms and legs and jog gently or run in a zigzag pattern across the pool and back. For the best results, keep your chest high and try not to bend forward.
7. Try some child’s play
Kids are natural stop-and-go exercisers as they run, run, run, stop to catch a breath, and run some more. Play Frisbee, go swinging, or toss some horseshoes. You’ll raise your heart rate and build priceless family bonds.
8. Find fast friends
Plan a few walks a week with someone who’s just a hair fitter and faster than you. That means you’ll walk briskly enough to have a simple conversation, but not much more.) You’ll push beyond your comfort zone and get fitter, faster yourself. Bonus: Exercising with a friend makes time fly, and you’re more likely to stick to your routine if you make a date to do it with someone else.
9. Preprogram it
If you use a treadmill or other aerobic exercise equipment, choose the “interval”
program to automatically add inclines, increased resistance, and higher-speed
bursts to your workout.
10. Seek tougher terrain
Hiking trails, soft sand, and grassy fields all make you use more muscles and burn more calories than you would going at the same pace on asphalt. They’re often in prettier places, too--so get off the beaten path whenever possible.
11. Get in the game
Resolve to take up one active hobby this year. Sporting hobbies such as tennis,
cycling, and even golf (without the cart) include short bursts of heart-pumping
effort. And they’re fun, so time really flies.
Here are some examples.
Calories Burned Per Hour
You feel like a kid again
No winter weight gain
Fresh, healthy veggies
Golfing (walking w/clubs)
Social contact; improves flexibility
A chance to commune with nature
Ice skating/roller skating
Great family fun
Builds upper body strength
You can play rain or shine
Scenic and serene
Easy for all ages
Low-impact; eases joint pain
Improves eye-hand coordination
From Reader's Digest Cut Your Cholesterol. Buy this and other books at the Allrecipes Store.