Ready for a walk?
Walking is a great way to add exercise to your day. With warmer weather just around the corner, maybe you're thinking about stepping up the pace. (Remember, always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regime.) Here are some ways to do it:
- Use a pedometer to measure how many steps you usually take in a day, including your regular walk. Add 200 to 300 steps a day each week until you work up to a daily goal of 10,000.
- Try using walking poles (also called trekking poles) to work more muscles and burn extra calories. The poles are like ski poles with rubber tips. They use your arms to help your body keep moving forward. Although walking with the poles revs up heart rate and uses more oxygen, fans of the poles often say they feel as if they're doing less work.
- Walking up hills is a great way to tone legs. You also can vary how hard you work by walking up them more slowly or more quickly. Not a hill in sight? Try stairs. One study shows that 11 minutes of stair climbing is equal to about 30 minutes walking.
- Every few minutes, walk faster for a few minutes, then slow down again. The journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports these high-intensity intervals boosts the aerobic and blood pressure benefits of walking for older adults.
Take the scenic route
Looking for a pretty setting for a walk or hike? Try visiting www.traillink.com for suggestions from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The national nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping communities turn unused railroad corridors into hiking, biking and equestrian trails.
Once on the site, scroll down to "Find trails by state." Click on "Illinois" to bring up detailed information on nearly 90 trails covering more than 1,200 miles throughout the state.