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Prevent Walking Workout Burnout with 10 Tips from Consumer Reports

Tim Boyer's picture

Whether walking due to lack of an automobile or change for a bus, solitude or convenience, or an affirmation of the rare inner discovery that like a heart that beats only because it can, many of us are fortunate enough to be able to place one foot before the other, walking is the single-most unsung hero of exercise.

Henry David Thoreau waxed poetic about of the joys of walking in his 1862 essay “Walking” when he writes in part:

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least,—and it is commonly more than that,—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them—as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.

A believer not only in philosophy, nature and the soul, but the body as well, Thoreau was known to take long walks on a daily basis that many today would consider akin to a death march or perhaps bring to mind a verse about mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the midday sun. However, I would suspect that Thoreau would consider rampant obesity and metabolic disease madness in return.

Walking for exercise is the easiest and least expensive type of exercise available that actually works toward weight loss and improving physiological health and is supported by both popular fitness advice and scientific studies. Fitness Magazine refers to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where women between the ages of 18 and 30 who walked at least four hours a week were discovered to be 44 percent more likely to lose weight in comparison to women who did not walk at all—regardless of what other type of exercise they did.

However, as such, while walking for a workout appears easy, affordable and beneficial , many who begin a walking workout program more often than not eventually tuck their walking shoes into the dark recesses of a closet beside their dusty ab-crunchers, butt-busters and chest-expander equipment from their previously discontinued (failed) workout programs of yesterday.

And why is this so? According to the August 2012 issue of Consumer Reports on Health, walking workouts die from the boredom of plodding along the same route or monotonous treadmill like mice in a straight lane maze or exercise wheel. We may be moving, but are we really getting anywhere interesting?!

To help consumers overcome the hurdles of boredom during their walking workout, the editors of Consumer Reports on Health offer these 10 tips as summarized below:

1. Use a pedometer—a study that compared two groups of patients who received an exercise prescription from their doctor discovered that those patients who wore a pedometer walked an extra 50 minutes per week in comparison to patients who did not wear a pedometer.

2. A smart phone app is a smart way to move—smart phone apps can do more than tell you how far you’ve walked, they can also tell you how much work you’ve put into your walk and help maintain a record for monitoring your progress. Some apps will work with watch-style heart rate monitors.

3. Pump up your playlist—fast tempo music on your iPod can help you naturally pick up your pace while walking.

4. Fresh air is healthiest—studies have shown that walking outdoors in the elements and a changing scenery enhances mood in comparison to a dull oval track in a climate controlled environment.

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5. Put on some extra weight—rather than carrying small hand weights to increase the intensity of your walk, try weighted vests that are adjustable and will distribute the weight evenly over your body.

6. Walk with me, talk with me—rather than dinner and/or drinks for a meeting, suggest arranging a meeting that combines exercise with business by taking a walk together.

7. Monitor yourself 24/7—on-body monitoring devices are the latest in exercise and health fashion and function with armband devices that stay on and monitor not only your level of physical exercise, but how well you sleep too.

8. Be a club member—walking clubs are a great way to stay motivated and in some programs actually earn store coupons such as with the “Walk with Walgreens” program found at walk.walgreens.com.

9. Be the turtle and not the hare—start slow and sure and work yourself gradually to a fitness level that works for you.

10. Mix it up—who says you have to walk all the time? Try an occasional 10-second sprint to break the monotony and your latest personal record.

For information about how pedometers rated with Consumer Reports follow this link to an informative article titled “Consumer Reports Rates Best Pedometers for 2012.”

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile


Consumer Reports on Health Aug. 2012 Issue


Walking by Henry David Thoreau