You know you should be lifting weights to keep your muscles strong and fend off osteoporosis. But finding the time and motivation to pump iron after a long walk isn’t always easy. Try interval training for an all-in-one workout, suggests Steve Van Schubert, a certified strength and conditioning specialist from Nanaimo, B.C. A simple resistance band lets you incorporate short bouts of upper-body strengthening directly into your walks and can actually double the benefits of a standard walk, says Van Schubert. By keeping the strengthening exercises to just 30 seconds, you’ll still enjoy the great cardiovascular and calorie-zapping perks of walking while also shaping and firming the important core and upper body muscles.
Try these four toning exercises on their own at home first. Once you’ve mastered them, tuck a resistance band in your pocket and hit the road. When the exercises start to feel easy, don’t increase the 30-second time frame. Instead, swap your band for one that provides more resistance.
Drape the band around your neck, and grasp each end. Place your fists at chest height and your upper arms tight to your sides. With the band taut, slowly straighten your arms until your fists are beside your thighs. Return to the start position. Keep your wrists straight and your shoulders down throughout the exercise. Perform for 30 seconds at a moderate pace.
Loop the band around a post or sturdy object at chest height, and grasp each end. Step back until the band is taut when you extend your arms at chest height with your palms facing down. With your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, pull your hands towards your shoulders, as if you were rowing a boat, and feel your shoulder blades squeeze closer together. Return to the starting position. Perform for 30 seconds at a moderate pace.
Grasp each end of the band, and stand on the band with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your shoulders down and elbows slightly bent, lift your arms to the side until they are approximately shoulder height. Return to the start position. Keep your wrists straight throughout the exercise. Perform for 30 seconds at a moderate pace.
Loop the band around a post or sturdy object at waist height, and grasp both ends with both of your hands, palms facing down and arms slightly bent. Turn to position the post at your right side. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly bend your knees and point your hands to a two o’clock position. Using your abdominal muscles, rotate your torso until your hands point to 10 o’clock. Return to the start position. Keep your lower body still and your hands in front of your waist throughout the exercise.