I sent out a survey last week to all my 10k+ subscribers to find out how I could make your life easier, happier, fitter and overall better (thank you if you took the time to respond). 

It’s a huge goal for a mere mortal. But I’m up for the challenge.

Why such lofty goal setting?

I chose it because, unlike my past life goal of creating the perfect cupcake, this one won’t end until I’m able to save the world… or at least help every woman over 50 realize their awesomeness.

From what I hear, I have my work cut out for me.

For the sake of brevity (words you’ve never heard from me before), I’m doing something totally different called: Getting Right to the Point.

It’s foreign territory for me, so all bets are off as to how this ends.

So the survey.

I’ve sent several surveys out over the past couple years. Each time I’ve discovered some surprising facts along with other, not-so-surprising ones.

First, here are a few questions that didn’t make the cut but would’ve been super fun…

  1. What would make you walk faster, a See’s Chocolate candy waved in front of you… or a grizzly bear chomping at your heels?
  2. You’re on a desert island, and have to choose between climbing a palm tree for a coconut while being pelted by monkeys… or risking a swim in uncertain waters (cue the Jaws theme) for a fish dinner?
  3. You’re still on the island (where is that rescue ‘copter??) and realize you’re forced to swing from a vine to reach food or outrun a hungry leopard. Which are you more likely to survive?

Now for the real questions… see if you agree with the actual results when compared to these 350+ responses … of if you’re an outlier (you rebel, you!).

1. Your biggest fitness challenge was a combination of difficulty losing weight, an inability to stick with a program and desire to firm up: 41%

— Difficulty losing weight was second at 24%

The latter usually ranks first, but the combo wasn’t a total surprise, either.

2. Favorite social network was Facebook by a long shot at 59%, with YouTube a distant second at 14%. Pinterest was third at only 9%. This surprised me, as I thought the Pinster would be a fave, particularly with recipes.

Note: A bunch of you used this a sounding board for your dislike of all things social network related, and I totally hear ya. Not everyone enjoys going down the rabbit hole of political arguing, celebrity gossip and makeup tutorials.  

3. Dietary habits ranked #1 included “some good days, some not so great,” at 60%, which tells me inconsistency reigns supreme and likely leads to your response to #1. Busted! 

The good news is that in second place with 18% of the vote, you “rarely splurge” and eat clean (most food in its natural state) most of the time. Kudos!

4. Exercise and activities enjoyed by more than half of you?

Guess. Hint: It’s not running with the bulls or paragliding over a pit of alligators.

Walking, of course! At 62% this far and away showed me why walking plans remain one of the most popular headlines in every woman’s publication. Resistance training took a distant second place at 33%.

Therein lies the answer to many of your comments about being unable to firm up your arms, legs and overall. You can’t get there (firm and toned) from here (not lifting).

In line with your responses, I decided to focus today’s post on one of the most popular topics.

If you have any additional comments, please leave them below! And for those of you who generously offered to hop on the phone with me to delve a little deeper into your hopes, wishes and dreams, I am planning to respond to you in the next day or two.

So look for that. In the meantime, here are a few ways to burn more fat and calories from your walk:

If you’re a beginner

  • Walk 10 minutes, three to five days a week, at an easy pace
  • Swing arms freely, step gently and avoid locking knee joints
  • Stay close to home or in an area with rest stops in case you become tired
  • After a week, add five minutes to your walk and keep adding five minute
  • increments weekly until you can walk continuously for 25 minutes or longer.

Kick it up with interval training

An Australian study showed that women performing interval workouts lost three times as much fat as women who exercised at a continuous pace for the same amount of time.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, pick up the pace with interval walking to burn more calories in the same amount of time.

You can walk up and down hills (or set your treadmill to simulate hills), or vary your pace from moderate to fast.

Sample interval walking workout:

  •  Warm-up at a slow pace for 1 to 3 minutes
  •  Walk at a fast pace for 30 seconds
  •  Walk at a moderate pace for one minute
  •  Return to a fast pace for another 30 seconds
  • Repeat fast-walk and moderate-walk cycles for the total length of your workout, striving for 25 to 30 minutes total.

Allow a few minutes at the end to cool down with a slow walk and, as with all walking workouts, a gentle stretch.

Gradually increase your time spent fast walking and reduce slower-paced intervals

Engage your arms and core

For a change of pace from interval walking, try “power walking” to increase intensity without adding impact to joints.

Tightening your core muscles and adding arm movements—such as pumping arms back and forth—can help you burn more than 400 calories an hour.

Power walking can be tiring but it should never be painful. Work within your fitness abilities.

Sample power walking routine:

  •  Warm up at a slow-to-moderate walk for 3 to 5 minutes
  •  Increase your pace using short, quick steps
  •  Practice a heel-to-toe roll, pushing off from the heel, rolling through the foot
  • and pushing off your big toe
  •  Pull in and tighten your abdominal (core) muscles
  •  Pump your arms: keeping arms bent with fists loosely closed, bring arms back and forth as if skiing

The overarching message: increase your intensity, add intervals, hills or a combination of these to tip the scales in your favor. Literally.

What do YOU do to change-up your walking routine? Let me know in the comments section below…

Other posts you may enjoy:

3 Knee-friendly, leg toning exercises

Best functional exercises for women over 50

How to take the first step

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Your Ageless Body Coach,