Hero Images/Getty Images There’s no question that walking is great for everyone: It boosts energy levels, fights fat, and protects your hea
There’s no question that walking is great for everyone: It boosts energy levels, fights fat, and protects your heart. But walking is also the perfect addition to a sugar-smart lifestyle: Studies show that as little as 15 minutes of walking can help regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
(Lower sugar in your diet and beat sweet cravings for good by following the 3-week program in Prevention‘sSugar Detox Made Easy!)
This 3-week exercise plan designed by Michelle Adams, spa and wellness director at Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, VT, upgrades your walks with interval training, hill climbing, and strengthening moves designed to crank up calorie burn and shed stubborn pounds.
Monday: Grab a stopwatch and time yourself while you walk as fast as you comfortably can for 1 mile on relatively flat ground. This is your target to beat. Walk a second mile at a leisurely strolling pace.
Tuesday: Walk for 10 minutes at a quick stroll. Walk an additional 5 minutes at a slightly brisker “walking to work” pace, and then 5 more minutes at your stroll.
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Thursday: Walk for 10 minutes at a quick stroll. Now stop for a forward-lunge workout to firm up your thighs and butt. (Step your left foot 2 to 3 feet in front of your right. Keeping your left knee directly over your ankle, bend your left knee and lower your right knee toward the ground. Then press back up. Do 10 of these lunges, then switch legs.) Continue walking for 10 minutes.
Weekend: Walk for 30 minutes at a brisk, but not rushed, pace on Saturday or Sunday (rest on the other day).
After your walks, do these 5 cool-down stretches:
Monday: Spend 1 minute speedwalking at a late-to-work pace. Recover for 2 minutes while walking at a moderate pace. Alternate between speedwalking for 1 minute and recovery walking for 2 minutes, 10 times.
Tuesday: Walk at a brisk pace for 10 minutes. Up the intensity to speedwalking for 10 minutes, and finish with another 10 minutes at your starting pace.
(To lose weight, you should pair your new fitness routine with a healthy diet. TrySugar Detox Made Easyfor yummy, low-sugar recipes that will help keep you on track.)
Wednesday: Walk for 15 minutes at a brisk pace. Go for an additional 15 minutes at speedwalking pace.
Thursday: Speedwalk for 10 minutes, and another 10 minutes at an ever quicker pace. Finish with 10 more minutes at starting pace. You’ll burn up to 20% more calories this way than you would by staying at the same speed for the whole time, Adams says.
Weekend: Time yourself as you walk as fast as you comfortably can for 1 mile, to see whether you’ve improved from Week 1. “If you haven’t gotten faster, push yourself a little harder for the next 2 weeks,” says Adams. Remember to take a second rest day.
Bad weather? You can do this 15-minute walking workout right at home:
Monday: Walk uphill for 15 minutes as fast as you can. (No hills in your neighborhood? Use a treadmill on incline setting 7.) At the top of the hill, stop and do 15 forward lunges, then switch legs. Walk for another 15 minutes on flat ground at a slower, but still brisk, pace.
Tuesday: Find the steepest hill around (or use a treadmill on incline setting 9) and walk up it for 10 minutes as fast as you can. “If you’re running out of steam, visualize yourself standing at the top of the hill,” suggests Adams. “That sort of positive mental picture will get you to the top.” Return to flat ground and walk for 10 minutes at a speedwalk. Find smaller hills (treadmill incline setting 5) and walk for 10 more minutes as fast as you can. Finish with another 10 minutes on flat ground at level 7.
MORE:Your Simple 7-Day Plan To Lower Sugar In Your Diet
Wednesday: Pick your own route, varying between hills and flats for 40 minutes. Remember to walk the hills as fast as you can and the flats at level 7. (Or use a treadmill and vary the incline every few minutes.)
Thursday: Walk uphill for 10 minutes (or use a treadmill on incline setting 7). Stop and do 2 minutes of backward lunges. (Start with feet together. Take a big step backward with your right foot and lower into a lunge. Press back up to the start position and repeat, alternating legs.) Walk for another 15 minutes at a speedwalk, and then do 2 minutes of walking forward lunges. Finish by speedwalking a little faster than before for 10 minutes.
Weekend: You should feel in great shape by now. Walk 1 mile and see how much your time has improved! The great thing about walking is that it’s a healthy habit that you can stick with for life. When your 3 weeks are up, start the cycle again with Week 1. You’ll be amazed at how much your time, pace, and fitness level will improve each time you progress.
This article is adapted fromSugar Detox Made Easy. The ultimate 3-week sugar cleanse helps you kick cravings to the curb to flatten your belly and help you feel more energized than ever.