by Ingredient

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Walk Your Way to Better Fun and Fitness

Walking every day is a great form of exercise. It helps you get fit, and is great for clearing your mind and helping you relax, too! Walking is simple and easy to do anywhere, and it requires very little special equipment, other than perhaps a good pair of walking shoes.

While it is a very simple form of exercise, this simplicity can sometimes backfire, and those who walk regularly may be looking for ways to spice up their everyday routine to prevent boredom and keep things fun. Obviously, you can change your route, find different partners, or otherwise make some changes, but here are some other ideas.

With these 8 great tips, you can not only make things more interesting, but also give yourself a little fitness boost by burning a few more calories. Work some of these strategies into your usual walk, and you will find that you have a little bit more fun!

1. Create Your Own Race!

Using a piece of chalk, draw a starting line on the road or sidewalk where you will begin your walk. Set a stopwatch, and take off walking from the starting line and walk for 30-60 seconds in one direction. Mark the end point with the chalk. Relax, and walk back to the start line. Repeat this little “race” 6-10 times and see if you can outdo yourself! You will push yourself a little harder and find that this can be a great workout!

2. Skip to My Lou!

Many who prefer walking find that running is too hard on their joints. But, in between walking and running you will find skipping! You may not have skipped since you were a kid, and if you try it now you might find that you forgot how much fun it actually was. Integrate some skipping intervals into your walking routine for more fun. Begin by power walking for about 60 seconds, then add in intervals of high skipping for 24 skip steps. Return to power walking, and repeat the intervals up to 10 times.

3. Express Your Gratitude!

Each day as you set out for your daily walk, choose something in your life to be grateful for and focus on that gratitude throughout your walk. You may be grateful for good health, a wonderful family, a job you have, or perhaps simply that it is not raining on that particular morning. You can speak your gratitude aloud or reflect quietly, and you can do this alone or with a partner. You will find that you not only feel physically refreshed, but emotionally and mentally cleansed after your walk, too!

4. Walk Around the World!

Well, that might be a bit of a lofty goal, but you can keep track of your mileage and map it to see just how far you have “walked” this month or this year. Set up friendly challenges with your friends to do the same, and perhaps even set a goal “location” for a hypothetical finish line! Celebrate your accomplishments together!

5. Add in Some Hills!

Clearly walking uphill takes more energy than walking on a flat road. Spice things up by heading for the hills and climbing for intervals. Find hills that are not too steep, and not too long. A hill that takes you about two minutes to climb might be the perfect balance! Do some hill repeats, up and down about 10 times, for a terrific walking workout! Try and go a bit further each time.

6. Create a Debate Club!

If you have a walking buddy, it is great to set up a challenge that allows you to have spirited conversations that help pass the time. Take turns selecting a “hot topic” and see how long you can talk about the topic. You might be amazed at the ground you cover with certain topics, and how quickly the time passes!

7. Play Brain Games!

Walking is a great time to sharpen your mind. Listen to interesting and informative podcasts, play brain games like coming up with cities that begin with each letter of the alphabet, or practice math problems. Listen to your iPod and learn a new language. This is really a great time to spend thinking, and the added blood and oxygen flow to your brain makes it optimal time for learning.

8. Get Silly at Stoplights!

Now, you may be a little embarrassed to try this one, but don’t worry about what others think—enjoy the huge benefits from adding this move to your daily walk! Instead of waiting for the red lights to change so you can cross, do some squats and kicks! May sound crazy, but you will start to see the effects of this pretty quickly!

Don’t let your daily walk become a ho-hum event. Jazz things up a bit with these great tips, and you will not only feel better and look better—but you will have a lot more fun!