Walk Off the Weight With Fun Fit Tips and This Funky Playlist
Quarantine 15? Doctors are seeing spikes of up to 30 pounds. Here are 11 healthy reasons to keep on movin’ — and 35 tunes to take along.
Coronavirus hit our shores in the winter. Many of us were stuck indoors this spring and summer, and now that it’s almost fall we are still at home with all the snacks. Not only are we likely to eat more as a way to cope with stress, but added stress has a way of lowering metabolism, according to health experts. It’s no wonder that a WebMD reader survey found that respondents had gained an average of 8 pounds from mid-February through mid-May. But the devil is in the details. A stunning 1 in 5 (21 percent) gained between 10 and 20 pounds and another 4 percent said they gained 21 pounds or more. Now consider the trend extending into June, July, August.
“Anecdotally, [doctors] are definitely seeing weight gain. You can put on 30 pounds really quickly — you can do it in three months,” noted bariatric surgeon John Morton, M.D., of the Yale New Haven Health system on YaleMedicine.org. He also stressed the need to keep weight under control since obesity can lead to serious complications in people with COVID-19.
The good news is that perhaps the easiest, safest and cheapest form of exercise these days — walking — is also our favorite. The 2020 UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey found that respondents preferred walking (68 percent) as their method of exercise since COVID-19 emerged, followed by running (28 percent), body-weight exercises (23 percent), cycling (21 percent ) and weight training at home (18 percent). Grown folks are leading the pack with 77 percent of boomers preferring walking over other forms of exercise, as do 72 percent of Generation Xers.
The key to turning your walk into a calorie-torching workout? Intervals! Working them into a 30-minute walk, says fitness expert Denise Austin, “helps you burn up to 300 calories and boost your metabolism.” To do so, you do need to alternate between moderate and fast-paced levels of intensity. A beginner can work up to this by maintaining a moderate pace for five or 10 minutes after warming up. Gradually increase to 20 minutes over the course of a few weeks. At that point, this interval-based workout won't feel so daunting.
If you’re among those who are stepping lively — or plan to be soon — good for you! Here are some of walking’s other amazing benefits:
1. A longer life
2. Lower stroke risk
3. Improved memory and cognition
4. A decrease in belly fat
5. Protection against cataracts and glaucoma
6. Improved sleep
7. A calmer mind (when practiced as meditation — pay attention to those autumn leaves!)
8. Enhanced mood and reduced risk of depression
9. Faster recovery (e.g., from heart surgery or chemo)
10. Reduced risk of disability
11. Improved chance of recovery from disability
It’s fine to start slow. “If you can only walk 15 minutes in the morning, just do it,” Michele Stanten, an American Council on Exercise–certified fitness instructor and walking coach, told AARP. If you’re just beginning a walking routine, check in with your doctor. And to get the most from your workouts, follow these tips:
1. Replace your walking shoes every 6 to 12 months
2. Wear a mask, maintain social distance and invite a friend
3. Warm up: Take the first five minutes at a nice slow pace
4. Tuck in your tummy and swing your arms to engage your core
5. Add fat-burning intervals to your routine, alternating one minute of slow walking with three minutes at a faster pace, for instance
6. Get the right gear. Consider walking poles, a weighted walking vest, a pedometer or pedometer app
7. Don’t forget a water bottle
8. Cool down with a full-body stretch
9. Set goals to stay motivated
To help you ease-on-down, ease-on-down the road, we asked our favorite music wiz Tracy E. Hopkins to play DJ and hook you up with some moderate-tempo tunes perfect for walking. However you plan to step up your fitness regimen, take this motivational playlist of 35 heartbeat-boosting and stamina-sustaining songs with you. (You can stream tracks for free — just take a minute to download the music player app). Let grooves from Mary Mary (“Walking”), Ciara featuring Missy Elliott (“One, Two Step”), the Supremes (“These Boots Are Made for Walking”), Run-D.M.C. (“Walk This Way”), Jade (“Don’t Walk Away”), Bobby Brown (“Every Little Step”), Dionne Warwick (“Walk on By”) and CeCe Peniston (“Keep on Walkin’”) keep you going. Remember to “Keep On Movin’” — don’t stop!