By Pure Matters
Worried about gaining weight after menopause? A Canadian study found that just 25 minutes of brisk walking each day may help keep those numbers on the scale from creeping upward. University of Saskatchewan researchers tracked the daily activities of 401 women between the ages of 39 and 82 -- all of whom had gone at least a year without menstruating. The researchers discovered that 22 percent fewer of the most active women reported weight gain compared with those who exercised less than 10 minutes a day. As a bonus, the active set also experienced 44 percent fewer headaches. But you don't have to wait until menopause to start walking and reaping the benefits: Regular exercise can also relieve symptoms of PMS. Here's how to get started:
Get in Gear for Walking
Thankfully, walking doesn't require much in the way of gear. What you do need: a pair of walking shoes that fit well and are in good shape. (After a few hundred miles, the insides of shoes wear out, so replace yours every few months.) It's also helpful to have a sports watch so you can track your time.
Burn More Calories with Interval Walking
It's fine to take a moderate-paced walk for 30 minutes a day, for four or more days per week. But if you want to burn more fat in less time, it pays to do intervals—that is, alternating between brisk walking and moderate-paced walking. In one study, people who did interval walking for 20 minutes lost three times more fat than those who walked at a constant pace for twice the time! Here's a simple interval workout:
- Warm-up (2 minutes): Walk at a pace that's easy enough for you to sing while you walk.
Interval walk (20 minutes): Look at your watch and change your pace by the "second hand":
- Every time your watch hits :00, power walk with arms bent (fast enough that you could talk but you'd rather not).
- Every time your watch hits :20, walk at a moderate pace (slow enough that you can talk but not sing).
- Cooldown (3 minutes): Cool down by walking at the same pace you did for your warm-up.
Ramp Up Your Walking Workouts Gradually
To avoid injury, build up the intensity and duration of your workouts over time. Here's how:
Weeks 1 and 2: Three or four times a week, do the interval walk (above).
Weeks 3 and 4: Continue your interval walks three or four times a week. On the days in between, do a 30- to 45-minute walk at a moderate speed.
Weeks 5 and beyond: To continue losing weight, challenge yourself: Speed up the pace of your fast intervals, or add another 10 minutes to all of your workouts. If you're using a treadmill, you can also raise the incline level to make your workout more challenging.
Before you know it, you'll be moving your way toward happier hormones.