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The end of winter is in sight. With the improving weather, it’s time to get outside, start a walking workout, and get in shape. Here’s a walking workout plan to get you on track.

Note:Use a stopwatch, or the stopwatch app that comes standard on smartphones (If you are not sure of the miles, use the minutes, and time your bonus move intervals either way.). If you can find a walking location with some hills, it will increase the muscle toning and calorie burn. On nicer days, go outdoors and do the bonus moves I outlined. Studies show that the green vegetation, sunshine and blue skies of nature boost your mood and de-stress your mind.

Walking Workout Plan:

Week 1 – Walk ½ mile or 10 minutes M-F. Rest Saturday. Do yoga Sunday.

Week 2 – Walk 1 mile or 20 minutes M-F. Rest Saturday. Do yoga Sunday.

Week 3 – Walk 2 miles or 30 minutes M-F. Rest Saturday. Do yoga Sunday.

Week 4 – Walk 3 miles or 40 minutes M-F, Rest Saturday. Do yoga Sunday.

Outdoor bonus moves (30 seconds each):

Monday: Walking Workout Hamstring Curls – Step forward with right leg and bend left knee, doing a hamstring curl by engaging the hamstring and bringing the left heel toward your backside. Bend both elbows into biceps curls as you curl the leg and straighten them as you lower the leg. Repeat on the other side for each step.

Walking Workout Kickbacks – Step forward with the right leg and kick the left leg backward, keeping it straight. Bring the left leg back to start and in front of you to land your next step, while kicking back the right leg. This will engage and tone the glutes (butt). Add a triceps toner by doing kickbacks with both of your arms for every step. Lift the elbows high and behind you, with fists at your ribcage. Straighten both arms as you kick back the leg and engage your triceps. Keep elbows where they are and bring your fists back toward your ribs.

Tuesday: Plie squats Five minutes into your walk, stop and stand with legs wide, toes pointing slightly out to the sides and directly under your ankles. Lower down so that your hips and knees are almost in line, and keep your shoulders back, over your hips, and straighten legs back up again. Do an “air push-up” with arms at the same time by bending elbows at 90 degrees and lifting them to shoulder height. Pull the elbows back each time you squat, to engage your upper back muscles (squeeze shoulder blades together but keep shoulders relaxed and away from the ears.) Each time you stand up, push arms forward like you are doing a push-up, to engage the chest. If you chose to walk forward while doing this move, step forward with one leg as you stand up, moving like a sumo wrestler, being sure to keep knees and toes wide and out to the side. The rhythm would be step, squat, step, squat.

Outer thigh lifts Continue walking forward but bend the right leg as you step on it. Lift the left leg out to the side with a flexed foot, toes forward and heels back parallel to the floor, along with your arms (straighten them and lift fists to shoulder height to work the shoulders). Bend the left leg forward and bend it to step forward while lowering arms. Repeat on the right side by lifting the flexed foot and leg out to the right about 2 feet off the ground and raising the arms out to the side to shoulder height, then lower arms and land forward on bent right leg.

Wednesday: Walking Workout Hop – While you’re walking, add this interval for a little plyometrics to increase your heart rate and fire up your muscles even more. Step forward on your right foot. Punch your right hand toward the ceiling while lifting your left knee off the ground and hopping off the ground with your right foot. Mach left, right. Then step left and hop on your left foot with left hand punching the sky and bring right knee up to hip level. The rhythm should be right step (1), right hop (2), left step (3), right step (4), left step (5), left hop (6), right step (7), left step (8).

Kickmarching – Step forward on your right foot. At the same time put both closed fists up by your chin (“put up your dukes”). Bring your left knee up to hip level, then thrust your flexed right foot forward, pushing through the heel as if to knock a door down. Punch your left (opposite side) fist straight out and across the body toward the right. Bring your right arm back in quickly and snap your left leg back in and down. Repeat on the other side. The rhythm should be step right (1), left kick (2), left step (3), right step (4), left step (5), right kick (6), right step (7), left step (8).

Thursday: Washboard Ab Walk – March forward for a count of 8 with your right leg leading, in sync with the music if you have it on. On the next 1 count, stay with your weight on the left foot, and  lift your straight arms overhead and to the left. Lift your right knee up toward the left shoulder while pulling arms with bent elbows down toward the knee. Lower the knee and straighten the arms and repeat the move for a count of 8. Step forward with your right leg for an 8 count march, then do the move on the other side to work your obliques!

V Step – This move works legs, thighs and shoulders. Step forward and wide right with your right foot while bringing your right arm up to the right at shoulder level and slightly to the front. Step the left foot forward and wide left while bringing your left arm up to left at shoulder level and slightly to the front. Your arms should now be in a V formation. Step the right foot forward and center, while bringing the right arm back to the hip. Step the left foot forward and bring the left fist back to your hip. The rhythm should be: right wide, left wide, right center, left center. As usual, repeat the interval for 30 seconds.

Friday (or rain day) Indoor Bonus Moves – once a week or more

On rainy days, take the walking workout to your treadmill or one at the gym. If a treadmill is not available, get my 30-minute no-equipment Slimnastics Anti-aging Walking Workout DVD or download the app for iTunes or android. It was shot on a beach, so it’s another way to cheer you up on a rainy day! There are 15 bonus moves that march your muscles past a basic walk.

If you don’t have a rainy day, do the treadmill or video workout on Friday so that you can add an increased incline and moves at least once that week. In week 1, walk uphill at a 3 grade incline, on week 2 walk uphill with an incline of 5. Week 3 = 10 incline and week 4 = 15 percent incline.

Walk uphill on the treadmill for 30 minutes total (uphill targets calves and glutes much more!) for each indoor workout. However, every 5 minutes do an interval of 30 seconds walking with legs wide on the treadmill, then 30 seconds crossing legs slightly like a runway model. This will target inner and outer thighs more. For the last 2 minutes of the 30-minute uphill walk, turn to the right and skip uphill by stepping the right leg out, then jumping the left leg up to meet the right and landing on the left foot first, then stepping the right foot uphill again. For the final minute, turn and do this on your left side. Use the handles for support the first few times you try this. It also works the inner and outer thighs more, and you get a mood boost by skipping – you can’t help but smile!

Music – I have upbeat music playlists in different genres on my website at Nikkifitness.com but you can also just create your own by combining your favorite songs. Maybe you chose music from a trip you took, a time in your life that was especially happy, or something beachy.

Audiobooks – This is my secret walking weapon! I download audiobooks from iTunes or the library to my phone, throw on some headphones and ONLY allow myself to “read” while walking. This way, you look forward to your walk even more because you are dying to know what happens next!

Friends – Workouts are always better with friends. Instead of going out to eat, drink alcohol, or go to a movie, make active play dates with friends so you can both motivate, laugh, make the time fly, and avoid the extra calories that other plans might add.

NikkiFitness is a 37-year-old fitness expert, author of The Slimnastics Workout, a freelance fitness writer, and star of 11 fitness DVDs/Videos/Apps including the new 2015 Anti-aging Walking Workout, 2014 Slimnastics Stability Ball Workout, the Seasonal Affective Disorder Workout, Hard Core Abs, Fit Travel Workout, Booty Camp, The Slimnastics Workout (Yoga+Plyometrics Fusion), Red Carpet Runway Workout, Military Wife Workout, Baby Bootie Camp, and the Beach Bride Destination Wedding Workout (Amazon). Nikki’s “Slimnastics” exercises have been featured in over 100 national media outlets including the New York Times, Live! With Kelly and Michael, Fox & Friends, GMA Health, Shape, Self, Fitness, and Women’s Health. Learn more at www.nikkifitness.com.

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