Love your walks but aren't seeing results? Maybe you're finally ready to shake off those couch-potato crumbs and shed your extra pounds--for good. (Search: Walk to lose weight) Whatever your goal, we've created a walking plan that beats boredom and boosts calorie burn in only 15 minutes a day. Your secret weapon: Balance Walking poles, a type of Nordic walking pole that can be used on almost any terrain, including grass or concrete. They fast-track results because swinging the poles engages your arm, shoulder, and back muscles, which strengthens your upper body with each step and increases your heart rate. In fact, walking with poles has been shown to boost calorie burn by an average of 15 to 20%--and up to 50%--compared with regular walking, even though it feels just as easy. (Related: 8 Effective Exercises You’re Not Doing)
To prove the benefits, we had 38 women follow our plan for 8 weeks. Our testers gained energy, felt happier, and lost an average of 5.5 pounds, with some women dropping as much as 15. Katrina McLamb, age 38, loved Balance Walking so much that within 8 weeks she was logging up to 2 hours a day and lost 24 pounds. (Video: Stay fit and have fun with this sexy pole workout.) "I never used to go for a walk unless there was a Dunkin' Donuts at the end of the path," McLamb says. "When you're heavy, moving is painful. But my body didn't hurt with Balance Walking. Now I have more energy for my kids!"
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Your Weekly Schedule
Day 1: Balance Walking, Lower-Body Strength Moves, Relax and Recharge
Day 2: Balance Walking, Relax and Recharge
Day 3: Balance Walking, Lower-Body Strength Moves, Relax and Recharge
Day 4: Balance Walking, Relax and Recharge
Day 5: Balance Walking, Lower-Body Strength Moves, Relax and Recharge
Day 6: Balance Walking, Relax and Recharge
Day 7: Balance Walking, Relax and Recharge
Your Fast and Easy Balance Walking Workout
Use your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) as a guide, with 1 equivalent to sitting on the couch and 10 an all-out effort. At 5 or 6, you should be slightly breathless but able to speak. At 7 or 8, you should be able to say only a few words between breaths.
Women who walk briskly for 15 minutes a day live 3 years longer than women who don't walk.
Time: 2 min
Activity: Increased speed/intensity
Time: 11 min
Time: 2 min
Total workout time: 15 min
Part 1: Proper Pole Walking 101
- Adjust your poles to the correct height: Grasp the handgrip of one pole in one hand, elbow bent by your side. Adjust pole height until elbow is at a 90-degree angle. Adjust the other pole to this height or, for an easier workout, make both poles 1 to 2 inches shorter.
- If you're walking on asphalt or concrete, twist the rubber tip on the bottom of each pole so that it faces behind you. Use the spike when walking on grass or dirt. The hand straps should be comfortably snug.
- Slowly start to walk, swinging arms one at a time. You will notice that the left pole goes forward as your right foot steps forward and vice versa. As poles swing forward, plant them on the ground about 1 foot behind your extended foot. To avoid tripping, never place poles in front of feet.
- Continue to swing arms and poles naturally. But as you progress and feel more comfortable, focus on pressing down and back as poles connect with the ground, which will better engage your arm and upper-back muscles. Lightly squeeze the handgrips as you swing the poles forward, and relax your grip as you swing them back.