Get fit with a point-based walking program

Each step gets you closer to meeting your fitness goals
Getting fit doesn't have to be complicated. It's as easy as lacing up your shoes and going for a walk.

But you want your walking workout to take you somewhere, hopefully, closer to your fitness and health goals. This easy walking program provided to us by Prevention magazine can help you do just that.

Prevention's Walking Points Plan, published in the April issue and available in more detail at Prevention.com, requires no special equipment or large investments of time.

"Every time you put one foot in front of the other for at least 60 seconds you earn points," the magazine advises. "The more energetically you walk, the more you earn. As the points rack up you score big benefits."

"Point assignments are a great way to meet your goals," Dr. Dixie Thompson, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at the University of Tennessee, told the magazine.

"People know they need to move but they don't know how cleaning the house or hiking trails counts toward their goals. This makes it easy."

The programs

Pick one of the following programs, based on your personal goals, get moving and add up the points each day. Pump up your points with additional exercise.

  • Lower stress: Brisk walking and light stretching erases daily angst.
    Goal: 50 points a day.
  • Live longer: Upping activity lowers blood pressure and fights disease.
    Goal: 75 points a day.
  • Firm up: Head for the hills to tone your legs, rear, and everywhere.
    Goal: 80 points a day.
  • Burn belly fat: Energetic activity whittles your waistline fast.
    Goal: 90 points a day.

The points (earned per minute)

Easy walking -- You can converse while walking (2.5-3 mph): 1

Brisk walking -- Like you're late for an appointment (3.5-4 mph): 2

Hilly terrain walking (easy): 2

Hilly terrain walking (3-3.5 mph): 3

Power stride (4.5-5 mph) -- Any faster, you're jogging: 3

Shopping: 1

  • Shopping with bags: 1.5
  • Strolling with baby (in stroller or pack): 1.5
  • Strolling briskly with baby (in stroller or pack): 2.5
  • Stairs: 1 per flight (at least 12 steps)

    Additional exercise:

  • Jogging: 4
  • Aerobics class (and calisthenics like jumping jacks): 3
  • Bicycling (vigorous) or spinning: 3
  • Step or kickboxing aerobics: 3
  • Tennis (singles): 3
  • Bicycling (easy): 2
  • Pilates (on mat): 2
  • Strength training: 2
  • Swimming: 2
  • Yoga (power/ashtanga): 2
  • Gardening (general): 1
  • Housecleaning: 1
  • Outdoor play with kids: 1

    Adding it up

    12-point caffeine-free pick-me-up:
    For a latte-like lift when you hit a slump sans the calories and caffeine: Stretch for 1 minute (1 point). Walk easy, breathing deeply, for 8 minutes (8 points). Stop and step on and off a curb 24 times (2 points). Stretch for 1 minute (1 point). Enjoy!

    Lower stress: Brisk walking burns off the effects of stress hormones and triggers a much-needed relaxation response -- a post-exercise glow that brightens even the dreariest days. Add some stretching to completely unravel tension. Aim to accumulate 20 to 30 minutes of 2- to 3-point activity and stretching.

    65-point heart boost: This workout is like a shot in the arm for cardiovascular health. Walk easy for 10 minutes (10 points). Then alternately walk briskly for 4 minutes (8 points) and power walk for 1 minute (3 points). Repeat for four intervals (44 points total). Cool down for 8 minutes (8 points). Stretch for 3 minutes (3 points).

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