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Stan Harrison: Lose weight with your own indoor fitness track

Feb 27th, 2012

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One of Stan's favorite columns:

Our house plan called for two hallway doors.

But to give the house a more open feel, we decided to leave them out.

The result was an uninterrupted pathway around the main floor -- a circle.

The circle soon became a favorite place of amusement for our then-3-year-old nephew, Mikey. For him, it was a running circle.

Round and round he'd race while grandpa kept track of the laps by drawing hash marks on a piece of wood. Not only was it great fun for Mikey, it was great exercise -- and a great way to wear him out before bedtime. Altogether, he tallied up a holiday season total of 830 laps.

Little did Mikey know that his running in circles would spawn what now has become a ready-made indoor fitness track -- our "walking circle."

If your New Year's resolution is to lose some weight -- or simply maintain it -- you don't necessarily have to join the gym or buy a treadmill or exercise bike. You can create your own indoor fitness track. Simply find a spot to walk -- back and forth, if need be. The basement, a deck or a large room or hallway could suffice. We use our walking circle.

But we don't race like Mikey did or count laps. Instead, we use a technique called intermittent walking. You walk at a brisk pace for 5 minutes (but not so fast you can't talk), then run as fast as you can (without knocking over other family members or knickknacks) for 30 seconds. The daily walk/run cycle is repeated for about 30 minutes. Combined with a few simple strength training exercises, the technique can reap healthy benefits.

In our case, intermittent walking takes a little planning. First, a chair or two must be slid out of the way. Since the circle's path runs through the kitchen, exercising shouldn't be done while others are preparing, eating or cleaning up meals, although it often is. The last thing you want is to collide with someone carrying the dinner entree.

Another potential obstacle is the cat, who might be poised to give chase or unexpectedly pounce in front of you.

Because our floors are hardwood, slippers with soles are highly recommended. You need a grip on those tight corners, especially on the slick ceramic tile near the entrance. Wearing socks could force you to hang on to the banister or grab family members and furniture as you try to avoid sliding into a wall -- or into a fall -- or worse.  

To help the time pass more quickly, we listen to music, a favorite radio program or a book on CD.

So how's it working for me? If you count the holidays, I've gained 6 pounds. Although I walked as briskly as I could through the kitchen during the holidays, I couldn't seem to walk nearly fast enough to avoid grabbing a sour cream Christmas cookie or an extra chunk of ham.

Even so, intermittent walking has helped to keep my holiday weight gain down.

And the pounds are sure to drop, as they did before the holidays, now that nearly all the festive goodies have been securely packed away -- in my stomach.


To share your home improvement stories, ideas, gardening tips and recipes, click on "Comments."  Or e-mail your tips to Stan. For more home improvement tips, gardening ideas and recipes, go to Stan's blog, Been There, Done That. Follow Stan on Twitter! @homefrontstan

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Stan Harrison: Lose weight with your own indoor fitness track

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