Hot Summer temperatures and/or high humidity may mean that instead of doing your walking workouts and running workouts outdoors like you might at other times of the year, you need to take your walking workout and running workout indoors.
I personally never, ever went on a treadmill when I lived in Southern CA because of the wonderful temperate climate. However, living in Colorado I had to learn to adapt my walking workouts to the winter weather which seemed to start Labor Day practically :) and now that I am in Las Vegas, I have to adapt to the hellish 100+ temperatures every day. Either way, that means a treadmill instead of the great outdoors.
While there are pluses to walking or running on a treadmill, like the fact you control when you go up an incline, the speed you walk or run, or that you can pick a pre-programmed pattern, to me, that does not make up for the BOREDOM of being in one spot with the same stuff to look at over and over!
So what are my fitness tips for taking the boredom out of treadmill walking (and can be used for runners too)?
1. Great Music That Makes You Want To Move Makes All The Difference
You can't count on the music in your gym being a match with your taste and tempo. I always maintain a playlist on my iPod of upbeat tracks for working out at a variety of tempos. If I play the song outside of the gym and it makes me want to move around to it, it qualifies.
My taste is pretty eclectic, so I have everything from classic 70's disco hits to 80's new wave and Pop Metal, to Rock, to upbeat New County, and my favorite Rocky Story soundtrack (nothing like the War and Training Montage segments besides your standard Eye Of The Tiger to make you work it)! Whatever has a steady beat that you can keep up with on the treadmill will do.
If you set your iPod to "shuffle" then you will never have the songs play in the same order twice. It's like a new workout every time!
2. Mix Up The Speed And Incline Yourself
Yes you can use pre-programmed workouts on the treadmill, but I like to keep it interactive and custom to avoid treadmill boredom. I adjust the speed for every song that pops up on my iPod walking playlist at the beginning of the song, and especially if it has a faster or slower chorus or bridge, I'll do it within the song as well.
You can also continuously change the incline before, and during each song. I personally will usually create a segment about 15 minutes into my workout when I am good and warmed up to increase the incline with every song, or every couple of songs, depending on what comes up, and how I feel until I am maxed out, then bring it down every song or two.
On a 45-minute treadmill walking workout, I might do the incline/decline segment for 15-20 minutes. On a 60-minute treadmill walking workout, I might do the incline/decline portion for 20-25. Also a factor is suggestion 3 below.
3. Use Light Hand Weights Especially Designed For Walkers/Runners
Since I love lifting weights, I figured why not combine weight lifting with walking? Yet when I used regular free weights, it was clumsy and messed up my walking. I recently found in Wal-Mart a set of 1 1/2 pound hand weights specifically designed for walkers or runners made by a company called GoWalking. They were $3.86 each.
The GoWalking hand weights are straight, fully foam-covered sticks that have an outer strap that fit nicely around the back of your hand. They are comfortable and easy to hold for long periods of time, and for different movements without fear of dropping.
I have a ball doing bicep curls, hammer curls, deltoid raises, punches and just adding a little oompf to my regular arm swinging. I keep the treadmill speed slower when I walk with the weights and, for now, I am using lower inclines with them.
You might think by slowing down my speed a little I am not burning as much, and how much could three pounds of hand weights matter? Let me tell you that it really does, I am burning more calories, and anecdotally, working up more of a sweat than ever for the same distance at slower speeds and lower inclines. Plus it's fun! Just watch your balance, and ignore the odd looks you might get from those around you.
Have a great walking workout or running workout!
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Please note: check with your healthcare professional about the appropriateness of the above fitness tips for taking the boredom out of treadmill walking and running for your particular situation.
--Melanie R. Jordan, Author of Have Your Cheeseburger And Keep Your Health Too! Available 24/7 at http://www.HealthyEatingCoach.com
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