To many people, fun and exercise go together like porcupines and balloons.

In other words: they don’t.

If I went outside right now and did a “woman on the street” interview with non-exercising passersby, and asked them for the first word that comes to mind when they hear “exercise,” what do you think most people would say?

  1. Get away from me, you weirdo
  2. What?
  3. I’m calling the police

Okay, so maybe it’s not the best idea.

But say they actually took long enough to look up from their phones to answer me. My guess it they’d use descriptors such as “painful,” “boring,” “waste of time” and other, less-than-positive descriptors.

Then they’d call 911.

Therein lies the problem. Not calling the police on me, but the negative association with exercise. In fact, a new study proves it. (Not that we needed a study, but researchers need something to keep them busy, right?)

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that, “Many women start fitness programs to lose weight, and when they don’t they feel like failures and stop exercising.”

To which I say: duh.

They then divulged another shocker: months or a year later, they do the same thing again (otherwise known as New Year’s resolutions), creating a “vicious cycle” that never ends.

The study, also not surprisingly, found that inactive women’s beliefs and expectations about exercise sabotaged the things that made them happy and successful.

For one, they mistakenly believed exercise must be intense to be effective.

They held this belief so strongly, in fact, that they did not believe the newer recommendations for shorter, lower intensity workouts could actually work.

Truth is, intense exercise such as swimming the English Channel, hiking across Death Valley in the summer, and mud runs through electrified barbed wire fences is simply not necessary to get in shape for the average person.

But if that’s your thing, have at it.

Active women in the study did not share this same view but, as you would think, had more positive views of exercise than their couch-potato cohorts.

Nothing was said about the ability of these two groups to get along, but I’m guessing a lot of gossipy backstabbing took place (“Does she really think she looks good in those yellow spandex shorts?”).

Things that worked to motivate the sedentary women included not feeling pressured, connecting with others and helping others as well as achieving goals.

Let me translate: women feel good about exercising when no one’s hounding them to work out, they get to hang with their friends and feel as if they’re accomplishing something.

So, here are a bunch of walking workouts that fulfill at least one — and some, all three — of these parameters quite nicely.

Check ‘em out…

1. Tell stories

You can catch up on current events with a walking partner, although in today’s political climate that may not be a great idea if your buddy has opposing views. So instead, start telling a story as you walk. This can be totally fictional or true. Then stop talking (but keep walking!) in mid sentence and have your friend continue the tale. Go back and forth like this as you walk and see who comes up with the silliest scenarios.

2. Count your blessings

This also works best with a walking partner. Take time to reflect on the things for which you are grateful. You name one (“I’m grateful for this beautiful day!”), and she adds a gratitude (“I am grateful for your friendship”). You’ll end the walk feeling invigorated physically and emotionally. Group hug!

3. Walk from ocean to ocean

Not literally, but on a map. You’ll need to do a little math, so hang with me here. Use a pedometer to track your steps and, figure on about 2,000 steps per mile .Then calculate the number of steps it would take you to reach the next state. Then the next, and so on, until you’ve covered the entire country. Mark it all off on a map. If you’re super ambitious, clock a walk through the ocean and onward to Europe. Just remember to wear a wetsuit.

4. Skip Walk

Running can be tough on joints after 50 (unless you’ve been running all along, in which case you’ve probably adapted), so instead of trying to run, alternate fast walking for 30 seconds with high skips for 16 to 24 steps. Do it with a friend so you both look goofy together.

5. Race against yourself

After a thorough warm-up, set your sights on distinct figure up ahead, such as a fire hydrant, mailbox or other stationary object. Mark your starting point and walk as fast as you can to that point. Repeat several times, trying to beat each previous time. OR simply set your phone timer for 30 or 60 seconds and walk as fast and far as you can within that time and strive for further distances with each interval.

YOUR TURN... Which one of these will YOU try this week? Or do you have a fun idea to share? Let me know in the comments section below!

Other posts you may enjoy:

7 ways to burn more calories walking

3 Exercises for shapely, jiggle-free, arms

5 Ways to firm up faster

>>>P.S. Have you joined my Ageless Army yet? If you’d like a toolbox of exercise videos, nutrition tips and motivation all geared toward women over 50, you’ll want to check this out. CLICK HERE for more info or email me at linda@lindamelone.com with questions.

Your Ageless Body Coach,