First For Women
IT’S SO EASY!
Trail walking fires up fat burning and dials down stress to melt up to 8 pounds every week, plus delivers a wide range of health benefits like reduced blood pressure, strengthened immunity and fewer aches and pains. And it couldn’t be easier to get the perks! “Walking in nature for even 30 minutes has trickle-down effects that will have more of an impact on weight loss than spending 30 minutes at the gym,” asserts Jamé Heskett, M.D., author of The Well Path, who recommends getting in three to four nature strolls per week for best results. “It doesn’t have to be strenuous. You can go at a nice slow and steady pace with no sweating, so you can change right back into your clothes for the day.”
A-list trainers like Michelle Lovitt agree. She found that her over-40 clients, including Julianne Moore and Courteney Cox, were only able to release stubborn belly fat when they traded high-intensity workouts for calming nature trails. “Hiking ups calorie burn and fat loss without increasing cortisol, which is already elevated for women in their 40s and 50s,” explains Lovitt. “Plus, it’s so much more enjoyable than being bored on a treadmill. My favorite thing to do is to get outside and take clients for a hike.”
The best part? You don’t need to climb a mountain or drive hours to the nearest state park to jump-start your slimdown, notes Dr. Heskett. Walking in any natural environment will do. That can mean exploring the woods in your backyard, strolling in a treelined park near your house or roaming through a local field looking for wildflowers. Just put on a pair of sneakers or trail running shoes and head for the nearest path. And to get the most fatblasting perks from your strolls, follow these easy success secrets:
LOCATE NEW TRAILS
Since trails come in varying lengths, difficulties and terrains, it’s smart to start with paths that are right for your level to avoid getting discouraged with a hike that is too challenging. To find f latter paths perfect for beginners, visit TrailLink.com for a list of trails run by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which has converted more than 30,000 miles of unused rail corridors into public parks. And to find more trails, head to AllTrails.com (or download their free app in the App Store or Google Play) and sign up for a free membership that will allow you to search for trails by qualifiers like difficulty and length and read reviews from other hikers.
No matter which trail you choose, Dr. Heskett notes you should always print out the trail map or take a screen capture with your phone before heading out. That way, you’ll have access to the map even if you lose cell service.
OPT FOR THESE PANTS Trading your sweats for compression tights can help you melt even more fat. Dr. Heskett explains that the tight-fitting fabric creates pressure in blood vessels that improves circulation and increases the flow of blood to the muscles. The payoff: Studies show that compression clothing revs calorie burn by 30 percent. And even as temperatures climb, Dr. Heskett suggests sticking to pants over shorts: You’ll reap the metabolismboosting benefits, plus protect your legs from hazards like ticks, sharp sticks and poison ivy. A brand to try: CompressionZ Women’s Compression Pants ($45, sizes XS through XL, CompressionZ.com). Reviewers rave about the softness of the material and the comfortable yet supportive fit.
PACK FOR SUCCESS
If you’re hiking in a remote location or trekking farther than 3 miles, you’ll want to bring along snacks like nuts to keep you fueled. Water is also key for speedier slimming. “As long as you’re hydrated, your kidneys are going to be the primary organ taking care of flushing toxins and waste from the body—and that’s going to free up the liver to burn fat,” notes Dr. Heskett, who suggests drinking a large bottle of water the morning of your hike, then taking a small one with you out on the trail. A lightweight backpack makes easy work of carrying gear on the trails— and toting the extra weight comes with an added benefit: Studies show that for every extra pound you carry, you burn 10 more calories per hour!
GET A HELPING HAND
FROM HIKING POLES
For women just getting started, Dr. Heskett recommends bringing along a pair of hiking poles. “They help support the body’s weight, which can keep you stable on the trail,” she explains. In fact, studies show poles can reduce pressure on the joints by 25 percent, making hikes feel easier while actually boosting calorie burn by 40 percent, according to researchers at The Cooper
Institute in Dallas. “Poles will really work out your arms—especially the biceps and triceps,” explains Dr.
Heskett. And that’s going to eliminate pesky bat wings and sculpt sexy definition. Hikers swear by BAFX Products Hiking Poles ($19 for a pair, BAFXpro.com), which extend from 26 inches to 52 inches and are super lightweight. But Dr. Heskett notes, “You could even use two large sticks about the same size, and reap the same benefits!”
TUNE INTO NATURE’S BEAUTY Quieting your mind will help you get the most cortisol-reducing benefits from your nature strolls, but
Dr. Heskett acknowledges that it can be difficult to get centered with so many to-do’s racing through your head. Her secret: “The very first thing I do when I get out on the trail is take a big breath and try to listen to the sounds around me,” she says. “Tuning into the subtle sights, smells and sounds is going to expand your sensory experience by a hundredfold. And then the mental noise starts to flatten out and your thoughts feel a lot clearer and more organized.”