A few people have asked me about my walk off your weight program.
It is a simple step by step plan for losing weight by walking. A pedometer helps by measuring the number of steps you take each day – and you help yourself by gradually increasing that number 🙂
Though the plan was kept exclusively for my private weight loss clients until very recently, I decided at the beginning of December that others might appreciate this program especially in these credit crunch times when a hefty gym membership fee might be out of reach.
Since then I’ve expanded it for general consumption and released it out into the world for those who need a low-cost way to get fit and lose weight.
UPDATE 2012: This program is now available on Amazon either as a downloadable Kindle book or as a paperback. See details here.
I feel that walking has had a bad press among exercisers. After all, it can’t be real exercise, can it…
- if you don’t have to get yourself to a gym
- if you don’t have to learn complicated moves with state of the art equipment
- if you don’t have to get showered immediately afterwards
- if you don’t even need to change your clothes before you begin ?
Yet regular walkers are some of the fittest and healthiest people around and they rarely suffer the injuries and set backs of runners, joggers and regular gym goers.
Usually at this time of year I am thinking about starting to run as training for an annual charity race – the Race for Life. Then as I get going I decide I hate running and never run again after the race until the same time next year.
This year I’ve decided to add a regular walk to my fitness routine instead and see how I like that as a “rest of my life” activity. It feels right as I will be following in the footsteps of my Dad who walked every day of his adult life until he died last year aged 86 – staying fit until the very end.
Walking is great for weight loss too of course. Though that’s not my primary motive in taking up this form of exercise, I have some clients who follow a weight loss walking program I put together and find this the very best way to lose weight and keep it off. It will do me no harm to join them – especially as I have eaten so much after Christmas….
The idea of a 4 minute workout is very appealing. Let’s get it all done in 4 minutes and get on with your life.
I came across this fitness video today which is meant to be a 4 minute workout for beginners.
No beginners I ever met could manage this 4 minute exercise program, so please don’t even try unless you are reasonably fit!
But if you are why not give it a go…
If this 4 minute workout looks too strenuous for you, yet you want to get fit without taking up much time, my Fitness in No Time program will be much more to your liking 🙂
It seems that the more time we spend in a car the fatter we become.
Over time we’ve simply got too used to driving a couple of blocks to run an errand when we could get there under our own steam.
And it’s funny, what do we do when we arrive? We drive around for 5 minutes trying to get a “decent” parking spot – the one that will mean we need the fewest steps possible to get to our destination.
We do all that – and then find we have to join a gym to keep fit and lose weight.
Now I know, some of the distances you travel are probably longer than a couple of blocks but I’m sure you get the picture. Could you do even a little more walking?
Research has shown that at least half the journeys made by car in urban areas are for 3 miles or less (and 41% are less than 2 miles).
It’s not that we can not walk – in fact going everywhere in a car is a modern phenomenon. It’s as if we can’t find our way anywhere under our own steam. It has become the default that we don’t even think to question.
Well why not question it from now on? Every time! Always ask yourself
- could I walk there (safely) or could I carry out the same errand on foot (say at my local store rather than an out of town mega huge faceless store)?
- could I park a little further away?
- could I enjoy my journey more by walking/cycling and getting in touch with what is going on in my local area?
- could walking/cycling mean that I can combine my keep fit routine with my chores today and save myself a bundle of time?
And remember if you are stuck driving in your car a lot you can still get some exercise – remember the 4 Easy Car Exercises post from a few weeks ago
I’m sure it’s not news to you that working out and eating right can make you younger.
But it’s all a question of degrees. A plateful of broccoli and a gentle stroll in the park once a week are not going to keep any drooping and disintegrating at bay (though they won’t do any harm).
And yet it’s no good overdoing it and making your life one long chore of worthy eating and exercise either. (They do say enjoying yourself and feeling happy keeps you young too).
So how much is enough to push back the years?
Lodge says “If someone who is sedentary really commits to exercising six days a week, he would be something like 10 or 15 years younger in the functional respect within a year.”
And according to Crowley that commitment consists of relentless, steady exercise including strength training and aerobics six days a week, 45 minutes a day.
In many respects, it’s really not much to combat all the signs of aging we don’t want to see, although of course, you may need to work up to that level if you’re not there already.
How does exercise help combat aging?
According to Lodge, the cells in our body turn over all the time and each time they regenerate they can become a little stronger or a little weaker. Exercise is key to that switch. Along with avoiding the worst dietary excesses. The big culprits in the march towards old age are sugars, simple starches (such as those found in white bread and pasta) and saturated fats.
Of course, the authors have one view about the level of exercise required but not everyone agrees. Some research carried out in the 70s which is the basis for my Fitness in No Time program shows that as little as 10 minutes three times a week can be enough the keep us healthy well into old age.
If you have 45 minutes 6 times a week then I believe it’s a good idea to do that amount of exercise – why not? It will make you feel and look great. You know it will!
But if weeks go by and you’re just not getting out for a run or managing to hit the gym then 10 minutes three times a week of the right exercises sure beats getting old.
***Many Thanks to Gonzalo Haro for that striking image of him aging from 29 to 89!***
When I was a project manager a few years ago, working flat out, I often didn’t make a gym session I’d planned. Sometimes I didn’t make the three gym sessions I planned for the whole week.
Either there would be a sudden meeting called about some triviality over lunchtime (my gym time) or there’d be a real crisis that needed dealing with.
When I got home I’d be too tired to go out again and there was only once I was organized enough to go to the gym in the morning before work.
Now that I work from home and set my own timetable I have to find other excuses 🙂
But seriously, if you are going to get a fit, healthy toned body you have to find some way to fit exercise in around your work and the rest of your life.
There is no way you are just going to “find” the time to exercise – it has to be found. You are not going to get more than 24 hours in a day so if you want to spend an hour exercising, then something that you were going to spend an hour on is not going to get done. You get to decide what that is – although your boss may have something to say about it if you decide it’s an hour of work!
What are you prepared to give up to feel fit, toned and top of the world?
An hour of rubbish on TV? An hour of lounging about? An hour on the phone or PC? An hour of sleep?
Maybe when I worked in that office I should have always had a plan B for my lunchtime exercise – and followed that Plan B no matter what. I just didn’t get around to it and exercise time was always the first thing to suffer when I got busy – which was most of the time.
I do know that this was one of the many reasons I left my job in the end. Some things are just too important to ignore.
It feels great to get your workout over and done with in one session by combining a cardio and muscle training session at the gym.
But if you would like to burn maximum fat, get fit AND strengthen up you are better to work on your fitness and on your muscles in separate sessions rather than working them both on the same day.
That’s because research has shown overall calorie expenditure to be greater when you separate your workouts. It seems you get a metabolic boost each time you work out – and so combining sessions is counter-productive if you want to burn fat.
If you have too many time constraints to work out on separate days, be sure to carry out your weight training first while glycogen stores are highest to make better gains in strength.
If you can manage it, working out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning burns more fat than at any other time.
Don’t ask me about the exact science behind it, but it’s something to do with insulin levels being at their lowest level and glucagon levels being high – causing the body to use fat for fuel.
On top of that, for a double whammy, exercising first thing in the morning will get your metabolism revved up and into high gear for the rest of the day.
Personally I find that I feel light headed if I exercise without eating – and keeling over is not a good idea. I drink a cup of mint tea and eat a big juicy orange and that seems to be enough to tide me over but maybe that defeats the purpose – and I just use the calories from the orange 🙂
But if it’s right for your body chemistry then why not give it a go and get out from under the duvet and straight into your fitness gear?
Should you exercise when you don’t feel well?
There’s a general rule of thumb for minor illness which says that if you are sick from the neck up it’s ok to exercise but if you’re sick from the neck down you should take the day off and rest.
By sick from the neck up it means if you have just a head cold, a slight headache or are feeling a bit stuffed up then it should be ok to work out. Sick from the neck down means you are sick all over – you are feeling shivery flu like symptoms and you really should take to your bed, rest and stay hydrated while you recover.
Like all general rules of thumb you have to be sensible about self-diagnosing anything more than a minor cold and talk to your doctor if necessary about any illness you have. And of course, injury is a different matter entirely.
If you do exercise when you are unwell you will probably find your heart rate elevated from it’s usual level and you will reach your maximum heart rate at a gentler pace. So take care not to overdo it because you don’t want to challenge your system when it is already coping with you being under the weather. Use a heart rate monitor if possible and check your heart rate frequently while you work out.
If you just have a head cold you will probably find that you will feel much better after your workout – as well as feeling buoyed up by getting out there and just doing it despite not feeling 100%.
Interval training is the way to go if you can only manage a 20 minute exercise session but you want all the fitness benefits of a much longer session.
Why is that?
In a long session your body will make the most effort at the start of the session while it gets used to the level of exertion you are asking of it.
If that intensity doesn’t change throughout the session, your heart reaches a “steady state” after a short time and it does not have to make as much effort/expend as much energy to maintain your pace.
You are then coasting along for the remainder of the session – making an effort, of course but not really pushing yourself or using as much energy as you could.
With interval training you work at a higher intensity in intervals with a more moderate recovery pace between bursts. The bursts of higher intensity exercise can last from as little as 30 seconds to as much as a few minutes with the moderate intensity periods being just enough to recover from your high level exertion – usually about one and a half to twice as long. So you might jog for 2 minutes and then run at top speed for a minute and then recover by jogging for two minutes before picking up the pace again.
With this pattern your heart does not reach a steady state – every time you have a burst of higher intensity exercise your heart rate is elevated again and as a result you use more energy to keep your body moving throughout the session, not just during the higher intensity bursts.
If you follow this pattern for 20 minutes you will find that you use as many calories as you would in a much longer session and you will become fitter faster. As well as training your heart, intervals help build new capillaries within your cardiovascular system giving a boost to your endurance. All those new blood vessels mean that you will be better able to take in oxygen as well as deal with the waste products of exercise such as the lactic acid which causes burning and sore muscles.