While adjusting your diet is a critical part of your weight loss journey, physical activity can be a great way to boost your weight loss efforts—and help maintain your progress. One of the simplest ways to stay active is to take a daily walk; not only is it safe and effective, but it’s also convenient—and free!
In addition to weight loss, walking offers other benefits:
It boosts your mood. Walking is a light form of exercise that can improve your mood and reduce anxiety, research shows.1
It strengthens your bones. As we age, we become more prone to osteoporosis, a condition that involves bone loss. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation,2 this is especially true for women. As a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, walking helps to keep bones healthy by slowing age-related declines in bone density.3
It helps curb cravings. Studies show that a walk as short as 15 minutes can reduce cravings, such as chocolate.4
It cranks up your immune system. Research5 found that people who took a 20-minute walk five days or more per week had 43 percent fewer sick days than those who walked one day a week or less. What’s more, if the frequent walkers did get sick, they had milder symptoms and their illnesses didn’t last as long.
Ready to start moving? Use these 12 tips to start a walking routine that can help support your weight loss journey!
Tip #1: Make Walking a Part of Your Daily Routine
One of the easiest ways to walk more is to make it a daily habit. Start off by setting specific days and times when you will walk. If you are new to exercise, avoid less-realistic goals, such as walking twice a day. Unrealistic goals are more likely to deflate your spirit than challenge you to push ahead, so set attainable and measurable goals that can help you stay motivated.
Use these ideas to make walking a daily habit:
Take a 30-minute walk before or after dinner each evening.
Walk a few laps around the neighborhood after you drop the kids at school.
Take a lunchtime walk a few times a week.
Treat yourself to a gentle hike over the weekend.
Experiment with the days, times and routes that work best for your fitness level and schedule. Walking should be an enjoyable activity that motivates you to continue.
Tip #2: Find a Walking Buddy
Have your spouse, co-worker or neighbor (or your dog!) join you for a regular walking date, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. After all, what’s better than spending time with a friend while staying on track with your fitness goals? You’ll also get the following benefits of a fitness buddy:
Accountability: With a partner, you no longer walk just for yourself. You show up on the right day and time to be there for your walking partner.
Enjoyment: Walking alone lets you process your thoughts, which is great. However, walking with a partner is not only fun—it gives you the opportunity to catch up and discuss what’s going on in your lives. Chances are the walk will go by faster than you expected and make it even easier to meet up the next time.
More miles: You may log more miles when walking with a friend. You may get so engrossed in conversation that you find yourself walking farther—and perhaps even faster—than expected.
Tip #3: Short Walks Are Better Than Nothing
Strapped for time? That’s okay. Life gets busy and overwhelming. It’s important to know that even a few minutes of activity is better than nothing. For instance, just 10 minutes of walking per day brings health benefits, research6 shows. And a new study found that 10 minutes of physical activity can also boost your mood.7
So when you’re rushing through errands and driving to the next item on your list, try taking a moment for you. Explore a new neighborhood or park for a few minutes, or park farther away so you can work in some extra steps. If you’re squeezing in a walk at work, try a walking meeting; chances are the change of scenery—in addition to the exercise—will do you and your co-worker good.
Tip #4: Find Your ‘Why’
Everyone has a reason why they want to start living a healthier lifestyle and lose weight—what’s yours? Take some time to think about the real reasons that have motivated you to adopt healthier habits—perhaps grab a pen and write them down. Here are a few idea starters:
To have the energy you need to tackle your day.
To ensure you’ll be able to keep up with your kids or grandkids for years to come.
To be a role model for your children.
To be healthier overall or relieve health issues due to excess weight.
When you are feeling a bit weary or unsure if you want to lace up those sneakers, remember your ‘Why.’ To get more inspiration, check out these motivation tips.
Tip #5: Get Good Walking Shoes
You will be even more motivated to go walking if you have shoes that are comfortable and fit correctly; properly fitted shoes can also help prevent pain and injuries. If you suffer from back, hip or knee pain, it might be worth going to a specialty shoe store to have your step assessed and get recommendations for what shoes are best for you. Keep in mind that you’ll need to replace your walking shoes periodically.
Tip #6: Set the Pace With Music
On days when you’re not feeling motivated to walk at a brisk pace, help set the mood with the right playlist. Put together a list of songs that motivate you to move and keep you going when you need a little inspiration.
Tip #7: Plan for the Weather
Get in the habit of checking the weather forecast regularly and planning your attire and walking schedule accordingly. Here are a few tips:
Get the right layers, such as activewear sweatshirts and beanies, to keep you warm in cold weather.
For hot days, plan to walk earlier or later in the day.
Try to walk during the day in the winter months to take advantage of the sun’s warmth.
If you live in an area where it’s not possible to walk outside for much of the year, consider joining a gym and using the treadmill there; or try walking at a local mall.
Tip #8: Up the Pace
Walking faster means more calories burned. So the next time you’re out on a walk, see if you can increase your pace. If you have trouble keeping a brisk pace for the entire walk, try varying your speed for a specified amount of time; or use markers such as streetlights or mailboxes. With time, you’ll build up your stamina and be able to maintain a faster pace for longer.
Tip #9: Vary Your Walking Routes
It’s important to change up your walking route. Here’s why:
Going on the same walk every day can lead to boredom, which, in turn, can lead to less motivation to walk.
Different types of terrain keep your body challenged. Walking hills is a lot more rigorous than a flat path.
Walking can become a tool for expanding your horizons and seeing new places. Make your walks a means of exploring areas you might not usually visit.
Tip #10: Take the Stairs!
Many of us have heard it before: Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. It sounds simple, but this one tactic can add up to more steps per day and can support your weight loss efforts.
Try these other tips to help increase your steps per day:
Add walking into activities with friends and family. Rather than going to a movie, suggest a walk!
Choose public transportation when possible. If you arrive somewhere by bus or train, the block or two to get to your destination adds up to more exercise.
Tip #11: Monitor Your Walks
Many of us are motivated by results. To keep yourself accountable, try keeping track of your walking routes, your distance and how you’re feeling. Whether you write it down daily or use your smartphone or wearable fitness device to track your steps, it’s easier to stay motivated when you can track your progress. After a few weeks, look back to your first walks. Do you notice any changes? Perhaps you can walk longer, more often or don’t feel as tired after your walks.
Tracking your walks is especially helpful if you sit a lot at your day job and are seeking ways to increase your daily steps. In fact, sitting all day is one of the surprising things that can cause weight gain.
Tip #12: Use Walking as a Tool to De-Stress
Remember: Walking is not just for physical fitness. It also helps improve your mood and is a great way to reduce stress. Before you begin a walk, take a moment to notice how you are feeling. Then, after going on your walk, pause and reflect again. Process your current mood. Are you feeling different after your walk? How do your heart rate and breathing compare?
In the bustle of a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget to process how we are feeling in the moment and what truly affects us in daily life. By increasing our awareness, it may be easier to pinpoint our stress—and reap the health benefits of doing so.
We hope these tips help you enjoy one of the easiest, safest and most convenient ways to support your weight loss journey and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Ready start a weight loss program that is safe, convenient and delicious? Learn how Jenny Craig can help you reach your goals. Book a free appointment to get started today!
Now that the weather has changed and summer is in full swing, it’s the opportune time to try some new outdoor activities. By embracing the summer season and getting outside, you may be surprised by how many simple activities can get you moving and your heart pumping. After all, sneaking movement into your day doesn’t need to be boring or even feel like exercise.
Read on for six different ideas to get you, and your family, moving this summer.
1. Explore a Nearby Park
Enjoy a relaxing (and affordable) day in the great outdoors by taking the whole family on a hike or a walk at a nearby park. Not only will you be able to revel in nature’s beauty, but you’ll also be incorporating some quality physical activity. Plus, you don’t have to climb a mountain to reap the health benefits. Even just thirty minutes of walking a day can have a significant impact on your overall health.1
2. Hit the Beach (or Lake!)
Warm summer months and aquatic activities go hand in hand. Whether it be a lake, the beach or even a pool, try finding a body of water in your area to enjoy before colder weather encroaches. From kayaking to canoeing and swimming, there are an array of different activities to try out. An added bonus: activities like these tend to be easy on the joints, making them excellent low-impact exercises.
3. Join a Group Class
Many fitness and yoga studios offer outdoor classes during the summer months, and they can be a great way to break up your usual routine while getting your heart pumping in a group setting. Check out your local community forum or do a quick search on the internet to find a class near you.
4. Try Out a New Sport (Or Revive an Old One)
There are a plethora of outdoor sports that are fun and provide an incredible workout, such as tennis, soccer, volleyball, basketball…the list goes on. Whether you’re trying one for the first time, or you were the team captain in high school, summer is the perfect opportunity to suit up and have some fun! Check out your local intramural sports league and choose one that’s up your alley.
Interested in sprucing up a nearby park or helping to maintain a local hiking trail? Volunteering is not only fulfilling, but it’s also a great way to get outside and get moving. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to meet like-minded people while giving back to your community.
6. Plant a Garden
Although gardening may not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think of summer outdoor activities, it’s more of an aerobic workout than you might suspect. From bending down to tend to various plants to reaching and twisting to pull weeds, gardening is an excellent form of exercise.2 Growing your own produce also comes with the upside of being able to incorporate fresh vegetables into any meal.
Are you ready to incorporate more activity and healthy meals into your life? Jenny Craig can help. Book your free appointment to get started today!
Although it’s no mystery that physical activity is beneficial for our health and weight loss goals, finding exercises we enjoy and that can fit into our busy lives can sometimes feel overwhelming. Between work, family and trying to balance a social life, it can be challenging to squeeze in the time to make it to the gym or wake up early for a morning workout.
The good news is that getting some movement in each day can have a significant impact on our physical health, reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more.1 What’s more, low-impact exercises may help keep your bones strong which may prevent your chances of developing osteoporosis and are a safe alternative to higher intensity workouts.2
We’ve compiled four bodyweight exercises that are gentle on the body, but challenging enough to make a beneficial impact on your health—and the best part—they can be performed just about anywhere.
Though you may think that walking is not as effective as a more strenuous modality like a spin class or running, you might be surprised. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking of 30-minutes a day can help with healthy weight management and may prevent or manage a wide range of conditions that include high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.3 Walking may also help strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and coordination, and even boost your mood.3
If you can’t make time for a 30-minute walk, or if the length of time seems overwhelming, start with smaller increments. Even five minutes of walking each day is beneficial.4 Once that becomes a habit, increase your time by few minutes each week, until you get to 30. Consider tracking your steps so you can hold yourself accountable.
2. Take the Stairs
Believe it or not, opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator is an incredibly effective way to burn calories and build strength at the same time. In fact, one study showed that men who averaged climbing eight flights a day had an incredible 33 percent lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary.5 Another study showed climbing stairs was even more demanding than lifting weights6 —so put down the dumbbells and lace up those shoes!
However, since this low-impact exercise can be taxing, especially if you’ve been sedentary—start slow, perhaps with just a single flight of stairs, and hold on to the railing to aid your balance. Remember—every step counts!
Practicing yoga has benefits beyond the physical of improving your flexibility and strengthening your bones7— it can also relieve stress and enhance one’s sense of well-being.8 And the best part is that all you need is a yoga mat, a reasonably firm floor, and your body. If you’re a beginner, there’s a wide variety of free or low-cost classes available online that can provide valuable guidance. Whether you’re new or an experienced yogi, making this practice a part of your wellness routine is an excellent choice.
4. Bodyweight exercise
Building strength and toning your muscles doesn’t have to require heavy equipment or a lot of time. Bodyweight exercises can be done just about anywhere and if done with enough exertion can provide the benefits of a much longer workout in just minutes.9-10
There’s a wide variety of simple bodyweight exercises to choose from, including squats, lunges, push-ups on your knees, jumping jacks, and more. Perfect for home, when traveling, or even at work, finding a way to fit in bodyweight exercises could not only help improve your bone strength but also give you a great, low-impact workout.
One of the best ways to stay on track with your health and weight loss goals is to find activities you genuinely enjoy. Whether you love going for a bike ride or live for trying out the latest fitness classes, it’s important to find a form of exercise that you’ll want to stick with because you find it fun! But even people who love breaking a sweat sometimes find it difficult to feel motivated to workout. That’s when a fitness buddy can come in handy.
We’re breaking down the benefits of having an exercise buddy and how they can help motivate you to stay on track with your fitness and weight loss goals. Read on–you may just want to call up a pal and get moving!
Motivation to Get Moving
When you aren’t in the mood to work out, it can be too easy to come up with excuses to stay on the couch. Maybe the weather is cold, you had a long day at work, or you simply don’t feel like it. Unlike legitimate reasons to skip exercising, such as an injury or an illness, these are excuses that a buddy can help you combat.
Have you ever noticed that it’s harder to get out of something when you have someone depending on you? The same is true for exercise. If you schedule your workout in advance with a friend and you know that they are counting on you to go, you’ll be much less likely to skip it. This is when peer pressure can actually be beneficial!
Make Workouts More Fun
Many people start a workout routine only to get bored with it soon after. Boredom is a common reason why people fall off the exercise bandwagon. One way to combat boredom and fatigue is to mix up your routine with different types of workouts. A simple change of scenery could reignite your motivation.
Recruiting a training buddy can also make you look forward to exercising. When you work out with a friend, getting your heart rate up can become a fun, social activity, rather than a chore. It’s amazing how much of a difference good company and conversation can make!
Enhanced Stress Relief
Exercise can also help boost your mood and combat stress. While yoga and Tai Chi may reduce anxiety, Pilates may help improve your sleep and swimming has been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression. The emotional benefits of exercise can be enhanced with when you work out with a friend.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Stress Management, working out with a pal increased participants’ feelings of calm after a sweat session. So instead of going for a walk solo, call up a friend–you may benefit from feeling less stressed post-workout than if you’d gone alone.
Greater Confidence to Try New Exercises
Trying new exercises is a great way to keep your workout routine fun, but it can be intimidating to walk into a class alone. With a friend in tow, you may have the confidence to try that dance or circuit training class you’ve been eyeing! Knowing that you aren’t the only person in the class who has never tried spinning or yoga can make a new activity less intimidating.
Share Your Accomplishments
It is important to set fitness goals to help you maintain your progress and motivation. Although it feels incredible when you accomplish something you’ve been working towards, it can be even better to share with a friend. A workout buddy who knows your goals can help encourage and congratulate you when you reach special milestones. High-fives all around!
Having an exercise buddy offers a wealth of benefits, so ask one of your friends to join you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Another resource for motivation and weight loss support is your own personal Jenny Craig consultant. They’ll help you navigate through your weight loss journey and help you find inspiration to become a healthier you. Contact us to set up your free appointment today.
How Exercise Improves Your Mood
If you’re wondering how you can naturally boost your mood and increase your energy, the answer may be to get moving. Studies have shown that exercise improves not only mental health but it can also promote relaxation.1 Even better–you don’t need to be a professional athlete or exercise-pro to reap the benefits.
Wondering what simple activities can help you feel great? We’ve rounded up 7 exercises that may help lift your spirits and explain how each exercise improves mood differently.
How Does Exercising Improve Your Mood?
Regular exercise may give you a mood boost and improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.2 When you break a sweat, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being. Getting active can also take your mind off of worries and help to relieve stress.3
What’s more, exercise may also help improve self-confidence.4 Along with boosted positive body image, there have also been findings of increased self-esteem.4 And the benefits of exercise don’t stop there, by breaking a sweat on a regular basis it allows you the chance to meet new people and socialize with friends.
Getting active is a great outlet to work out any stress you may be experiencing and can help with depression.5
Once you get into the routine of working out, whether a daily walk or workout class, you’ll likely start to notice a difference in how you feel – for the better.
Read on as we explore 7 different types of activities and the benefits of each.
#1. Yoga to Decrease Anxiety
The benefits of yoga go beyond increasing your flexibility – it may also help reduce anxiety.6
A study analyzed the anxiety levels of people who practiced yoga for at least one hour, three times a week. The results revealed that yoga is associated with increased levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric), which is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that can help decrease anxiety.7 One of the reasons could be due to the slow, deep breathing that is so vital to the practice. If you’re not up for an entire yoga class, even simple stretches along with mindful breathing could be beneficial.
#2. Tai Chi to Reduce Stress
Yoga isn’t the only stress-buster on the block. The ancient Chinese martial art of Tai Chi may also help you stress less.8
Tai Chi involves standing and shifting your weight back and forth while engaging the muscles in your lower and upper body and breathing rhythmically. Multiple studies have found that the slow and fluid movements help your muscles and mind relax.9 Think of it as meditation in motion. As an added benefit, Tai Chi can also help improve your balance, flexibility and strength.10
#3. Pilates to Improve Sleep
Not being able to sleep can be frustrating, but Pilates may be able to help your mind unwind.11
Pilates is a series of strengthening exercises to help improve physical strength and mental awareness. A study performed by Appalachian State University found that Pilates can do more than tone your body. Participants who did Pilates on a mat for at least 150 minutes a week were less likely to have sleep issues.12
#4. Cycling to Increase Energy
You don’t need to enter the Tour de France–research shows that even short rides on a bicycle may be beneficial!13
One study found that just a single 30-minute ride on a stationary bike boosted the energy levels of participants.14 The study’s authors also recorded positive electrical changes in the participants’ brains that were related to energy. Although we often think of physical activity as being tiring, you may feel a little more energized after a workout session.
#5. Weight Lifting to Increase Clarity
It turns out that pumping iron can not only tone your body, it may also boost your mind.15
You don’t have to curl heavy dumbbells to reap the benefits of weightlifting. A study of older adults found that performing low-intensity, weight-training exercises three to five times a week for a month, improved the participants’ cognitive function.15 The cognitive tests showed an improvement in executive function, which includes planning, behavior regulation and multitasking.
#6. Dancing to Release Endorphins
If you love dancing for fun, we have good news: not only can it raise your heart rate16 which helps burn calories, but multiple studies have shown music may offer a healthy escape for your mind.17
Much like a runner’s high, the rhythmic movement of dancing releases endorphins that may boost your mood. Put on some music, dance away, and see for yourself!
#7. Swimming to Reduce Depression
Looking for a mood-boosting exercise that is low-impact? Consider swimming which can improve your mental and physical health.18
The results of one study found that swimming had the same effect on rats as an antidepressant.19 Because swimming uses special breathing techniques and repetitive strokes, it can be meditative and potentially reduce tension.
By incorporating one or more of these exercises into your daily routine, you may boost your mood and even bring you closer to your weight loss and fitness goals.
Are you looking for a weight loss program that can help you with your eating habits as well as give you guidance on physical activity? Book your free appointment with Jenny Craig to start your weight loss journey today.