Put a little zing in your daily strolls with these ideas.

Mood Lifter: A Daily Brisk Walk
Credit: Van Chaplin

Add pizzazz to your routine walks and notice a difference--physically and mentally. No doubt, walking provides an easy and inexpensive way to get fit. Yet it can get boring if you do the same thing over and over. Challenge yourself with these tips, and it will benefit your body and mind.

Endurance Boost
Strengthen your stamina on--and off--the sidewalk by adding interval training to your routine. No gym is required for this exercise technique. When walking, all you have to do is vary your speed and intensity.

Connie Tyne, executive director of Cooper Wellness Program in Dallas, suggests warming up gradually and then doing a few minutes of fitness walking (medium strides with arms moving at a 90-degree angle) followed by power walking (smaller, quicker steps, as if you're in a big hurry). You can also jog for a short distance or until you feel tired and then return to fitness walking.

"Repeat the pattern, and make it fun," Connie says. "Keep your intensity at a level that will be challenging but not exhausting. If you're listening to music, power walk during the chorus of each song."

Don't carry hand weights or wear ankle weights while walking. "They put extra strain on joints," explains Connie. "If you have osteoporosis, you can use a weighted vest that safely distributes the weight around your body."

Walk This Way
Here are some other suggestions from Connie and the experts at the Cooper Wellness Program.

  • Try a new path. If you always start out to the north, go south. Everything looks a little different from the other direction.
  • Walk with a friend in another neighborhood.
  • Drive to a park, lake, or river you want to explore, and turn your walk into a hike.
  • Go early or late to a mall, and window shop along the way. But don't slow down; focus on details on the next lap.
  • Reward yourself with new shoes, shorts, or socks.
  • Let music move you in the right direction. Nothing beats (no pun intended) a great song for making you feel more energetic. An informal poll around the office netted the following list of staff favorites.

Mood Music
"Lovely Day" by Bill Withers
"It's Raining Men" by Weather Girls
"Soak Up The Sun" by Sheryl Crow
"Goody Two Shoes" by Adam Ant
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
"Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf
"Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz
"Respect" by Aretha Franklin
"Crossroad" album/CD by Bon Jovi
"The Barber of Seville" by Rossini
"You Wreck Me" by Tom Petty
"Harvest for the World" by the Isley Brothers
"Beautiful Day" by U2
"Get Away" by Train
"It's a Great Day To Be Alive" by Travis Tritt
"Maureen" by Fountains of Wayne
"Some Other Guy" by The Beatles

This article is from the January 2006 issue of Southern Living.