Smart Steps to Help Protect Your Heart

One of the best workouts to boost heart health can be done anywhere, anytime: walking! Try these tips to ensure you get the maximum benefit from every single step.

By Denise Austin, America’s Favorite Fitness Expert

This month is a great time to focus on matters of the heart. And I don’t mean those little candy hearts! Your heart is a muscle that needs exercise to thrive, which is why it’s so important to focus on cardio workouts that help get your heart pumping. One of the best cardio workouts out there is also one of my favorites, and it’s something that just about anyone can do: walking! All you need is a good pair of supportive sneakers and you can hit the trail wherever you are – in the mall, at the park, or just around your neighborhood. Try these smart walking tips to ensure you get maximum, heart-boosting benefits from every single step!

Carry small weights. Small hand weights can help you tone your arms while you’re toning your heart – and it helps increase resistance, so you burn a few extra calories while you’re roaming. I love weights that wrap around my wrists. Try the wrist wraps from my new Forever Fit line of Home Fitness equipment at Rite Aid.

Find a walking buddy. It can be your spouse, your favorite neighbor, or even your dog – but make a can’t-miss date for a stroll with somebody. That’ll help ensure you get up and get moving, and increase the chances that you (and your walking buddy) are successful at getting fit. The bonus? You’ll get some quality time with someone you care about while you’re helping your heart. Talk about multitasking!

Try a change of scenery. Taking the same old loop every day can get a little boring, and might keep you from reaching the next level of fitness. So change your route every few weeks – add in that hilly side street, or skip your neighborhood and head for the park. The new terrain will help keep your muscles challenged and the new views will give you fresh eye-candy to explore – and both will help you stick with it!

Create a soundtrack. The right music can help enhance your workout and encourage you to keep on going for just “one more song.” Load up your favorite tunes to your MP3 player, and make your walk even more entertaining! I like to save listening to my favorite new songs for only during power walks – that way, I have even more of a reason to jump up and get going.

Change up the pace. Walking at a steady pace is fine, but for maximum impact, try interval training. You spend a few minutes warming up at a slower pace, then a few minutes walking at a more challenging speed, then continue alternating. That helps you ramp up your heart rate and burn away more fat – and allows you those rest periods that enable you to build up stamina. My Easy Interval Walking Plan can help you get started!

Use a pedometer. You don’t have to wait until your next workout to break out your pedometer. If you wear it every day, you can keep track of how active you are as you go about your normal routine – and perhaps get inspired to skip the elevator and brave the stairs! You should aim for 10,000 steps a day (about the equivalent of five miles), to help you stay fit. My Forever Fit line includes a walking kit with both weights and a pedometer. Check it out.

Stick with it. One walk a week just isn’t going to cut it! You should aim for at least four 30-minute walks each week to get fit. Of course, the more often you can get up off that couch and enjoy the outdoors, the better it’ll be for your body – and your heart!

Written for Rite Aid by

Posted in Wellness Resources