Find a detour
Park as far from your workplace (or doctor’s office, grocery store, or dinner party) as possible. Because you want to walk at least 30 minutes each day (about 3,000 to 5,000 steps), a detour will help, says Juan Remos, MD, an internist and health-and-wellness director at The Miami Institute for Age Management and Intervention. If you park 15 minutes away from your office, you’ll also burn an extra 130 calories per day.
Pack your walking shoes
Next time you book a business trip, add walking to the equation. “Everywhere I go, I factor in a daily walk,” says Eric Plasker, a chiropractor based in Atlanta and author of The 100 Year Lifestyle. “I get to see a new city in a whole different way.” This strategy also helps burn off high-calorie business dinners. A 20-minute walk on each of three days kicks about 260 calories to the curb.
Schedule a moving meeting
Hit the trail or track and bring a digital recorder to remember key points, Plasker suggests. By skipping the usual muffins-and-coffee meeting, you’ll avoid at least 450 calories and will burn a bunch, instead.
Get a pooch
Dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes a week, while people without dogs walk just 168, according to a Canadian study. That’s a difference of almost 600 calories.
A human friend is another way to stay motivated. “Being accountable to someone makes us more aware when we’re skipping exercise,” says April Harris Swales, a personal trainer at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. “On the flip side, you can be great cheerleaders for each other.”
Add some resistance
Working against the wind, in the water, or while wearing a backpack burns about 50 more calories per hour than walking on flat ground. “Nordic poles are another great tool,” Swales says. “They allow you to recruit your upper-body muscles, ultimately giving you an additional 25 to 30 percent calorie-burn increase per hour.” Plus, if you have a bad back or a balance issue, poles will boost your stability. (See our Nordic-Walking Workout).
Count your steps
In a study at the University of Michigan, walkers who wore pedometers lost weight even in the absence of new diets. “You can set goals and race against yourself,” Remos says. “For example, you can make it a goal to increase your walking by 500 steps every week. Or to do 3,000 steps in 30 minutes this weekend and 4,000 steps in 40 minutes next weekend.” Make it 5,000 steps and you’ll burn about 200 calories.