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Ways to Amp Up Your Walking to Lose Weight, Tone, De-Stress and More

A walking workout seems simple enough: Lace up your shoes, and put one foot in front of the other — easy.

While it can be that simple, achieving specific goals like losing weight, taming stress, training for a 10K or toning muscle require a more specialized approach to your walking workout. Here are some ways to tailor your training depending on which goals you’re hoping to achieve.

TO LOSE WEIGHT

Walking might even be better for weight loss than more vigorous activities like running, according to research published in the journal Risk Analysis. The study found that those who went for a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes five times a week had lower body mass indexes and smaller waists than those who participated in other fitness activities.

If your goal is to slim down, Malin Svensson, a Los Angeles-based walking expert and founder of Nordic Body, recommends walking a shorter distance at higher intensity. “Increasing the intensity burns more calories,” she says.

To torch additional calories, Svensson suggests incorporating intervals into your walk by walking as fast as possible for 60 seconds and returning to a normal pace for 30 seconds. Do this 10 times to make up the entire 30-minute walk.

TO TAME STRESS

When it comes to stress busters, nothing beats a long, leisurely stroll.

Start destressing with a warmup: Slow, gentle stretching not only helps avoid injuries, says Dr. James Rippe, a cardiologist and author of “The Complete Book of Fitness Walking.” “It’s a good time to get in tune with the fact that you’re about to do something good for your body and mind,” he says.

Aim for a pace of 3–4 miles per hour (15–20-minute miles) for at least 60 minutes. Instead of zoning out on the treadmill, get outside. In 2015 research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that a 90-minute walk in nature had lower levels of repetitive negative thoughts.

At the end of the walk, Rippe suggests closing your eyes and asking, “How do I feel?” as a means of appreciating the impact of movement on mood.

TO TRAIN FOR A 10K

It should come as no surprise that training for a 10K requires a workout that prioritizes distance over speed.

For beginners, training for a 10K will take at least eight weeks. Start slow. The goal is to finish the course, not break a speed record. “Walk at a pace you enjoy,” advises Rippe.

Plan to walk at least five days per week. The amount of time you walk — and the distance you cover — will increase each week. Aim for 15 minutes the first week, adding five minutes per week on four walks. During the fifth weekly walk, aim to double your walking time. For example: On week three, go for four 25-minute walks and one 50-minute walk. In the week leading up to the race, plan one 10K walk as a final training walk.

“You get multiple benefits simultaneously: aerobic benefits, bone building benefits and psychological benefits,” Rippe says about long walks.

TO TONE MUSCLE

No amount of walking will give you rock-hard abs or chiseled biceps, but heading for the hills (instead of walking on flat ground) forces your legs, glutes and core to work harder. “Walking can help you build muscular endurance,” says Svensson.

The steeper the grade, the more muscle activation required, according to research published in the journal Gait and Posture. The research also found that faster walking speeds on uphill grades require the most thigh muscle activation.

Set the incline on the treadmill or find a hilly route for a walking workout that tones your muscles. Svensson also recommends walking with poles. “It increases your muscular endurance by engaging your upper body,” she explains. Research agrees. A study published in PLOS One found significant increases in muscle involvement among Nordic walkers.

The next time you head out for a walk, think about your goals and tailor your standard stroll to improve your walking results.

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9 Unexpected Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

By now, you and everyone you know has probably eaten a fair share of trendy superfood Greek yogurt, likely in some pretty traditional ways. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The low-calorie, high-protein ingredient tastes great in classics like smoothies and parfaits, and there’s no denying that.

But those aren’t the only things it’s good for. There are many exciting ways to use this kitchen staple to up the healthy ante on all of your favorite meals—both sweet and savory! Use these nine tricks to give every recipe a bit of extra protein and a subtle Mediterranean flare.

1. SWAP IT INTO ALL THE RECIPES WHERE YOU WOULD NORMALLY USE SOUR CREAM

If you’re obsessed with that sour cream onion dip that’s always at parties (because, like, who isn’t?), but want a lower-calorie option, consider using Greek yogurt instead. In fact, anywhere you might use sour cream (on tacos and salads), you can easily cut down on calories by subbing it in for sour cream.

2. USE IT INSTEAD OF MAYO IN CHICKEN OR TUNA SALAD AND DEVILED EGGS

Abbey Sharp, dietitian and blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen, tells SELF that she likes to replace half the mayo in chicken or tuna salad to boost protein. You can even go as far as removing it entirely as Gimme Some Oven does in this lightened-up chicken salad sandwich recipe. Even try swapping it into deviled eggs if you feel like getting fancy.

3. MIX IT UP INTO A LOW-CAL RANCH DRESSING

Classic ranch typically combines about a cup of buttermilk and 1/4 cup mayonnaise. This recipe from Show Me The Yummy adds Greek yogurt while completely nixing the mayo and reducing the amount of buttermilk to just 1/3 cup. The whole recipe (which makes 1 1/2 cups) is only 206 calories total, while a 2-tablespoon serving of that classic ranch has about 140 calories.

4. MIX IT WITH OATS TO MAKE A MUESLI PARFAIT

Overnight oats are so yesterday…and not just because you made them yesterday. Muesli is the new cool oat-y kid on the block (at least Stateside; in Europe it’s a common breakfast option). What is muesli? you might be wondering. It’s a lot like granola—a combination of raw oats, dried fruits, and nuts—but, unlike granola, it’s entirely raw and best mixed up with some kind of dairy product. That’s where our buddy comes in: Add Greek yogurt to either homemade or store-bought muesli (you can find it at Whole Foods nationwide), mix it up, and dig in. You don’t even have to wait overnight!

5. MARINATE YOUR MEAT IN IT

Have you ever noticed that yogurt chicken is always super tender? There’s a reason for that: According to Epicurious, the active bacteria in yogurt helps break down the meat, making it a great natural meat tenderizer. Sharp likes to combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dried herbs, then use that mixture to marinate either pork or chicken.

6. STIR IT INTO SOUPS

If you want a bit of creaminess (and a little extra protein) in your next soup, top it with a dollop of Greek yogurt. This trick works best in spicy chilis and hearty veggie stews, but you can try it on any recipe you like.

7. BLEND IT INTO GUAC AND HUMMUS (TRUST US)

These tricks are some of Sharp’s favorites. “I add [Greek yogurt] to my guacamole to boost the protein and and stretch the yummy avocado flavor,” she tells SELF. And you can do the same to hummus if you’re looking to eat more protein. Bonus: It gives both of these dips an alluring, tangy bite.

8. USE IT TO MAKE A SLIGHTLY HEALTHIER VERSION OF BOXED MAC AND CHEESE

Yes, there is a way to make mac and cheese healthier, and, of course, it involves Greek yogurt. If you’re making boxed mac and cheese (SELF loves these brands), swap the ’gurt in for melted butter. It’ll still give your pasta that moist, creamy texture, with fewer calories and a tangier flavor.

9. ADD IT TO PANCAKES AND MUFFINS

This is a great way to get more protein into breakfast treats that are otherwise low in important nutrients. We especially love the way Crème De La Crumb uses Greek yogurt in this pancake recipe, and how it’s used in these chocolate chip muffins from Well Plated.

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Ingredient of the Week: 11 Ways Bananas Can Sweeten Up Your Breakfast

There’s a reason bananas were the top-logged fruit among the entire 190 million strong Under Armour Connected Fitness community in 2016: They’re nutritious, versatile and easy. They can help keep your heart healthy and reduce muscle cramps because they are high in potassium. They also make for a healthy, satisfying snack because they’re rich in fiber, carbohydrates and antioxidants. Compared to other fruits, bananas are highly portable and affordable, and they’re a great start to your day. That’s why they’re our Ingredient of the Week.

1. 5-INGREDIENT PEANUT BUTTER BANANA ENERGY BARS | BOWL OF DELICIOUS

With only five ingredients required, this no-fuss recipe is designed to be an uncomplicated, delicious pre-workout snack. Each sweet, nutty bar is packed with wholesome carbs, healthy fats and protein. Recipe makes 12 servings at 1 energy bar each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 240; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 94mg; Carbohydrate: 28g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 12g; Protein: 7g

2. MINI ZUCCHINI-NUT MUFFINS | DIETITIAN DEBBIE DISHES

These vegan muffins are lightly sweetened and deliver some heart-healthy omega-3 fats from the ground flaxseeds and walnuts. (Plus they sneak in a veggie while still tasting delicious.) These mini muffins are great to have on hand for a quick breakfast or snack. Pair with a banana and a cup of yogurt for a filling breakfast. Recipe makes 12 servings at 1 muffin each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 174; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 108mg; Carbohydrate: 21g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 4g

3. FOUR-INGREDIENT NO-BAKE BANANA BREAD BLONDIES | THE BIG MAN’S WORLD

Four ingredients, one bowl, five minutes. That’s all you need to make these soft and fudgy banana-bread blondies! You don’t have to turn on the oven — plus, these tasty treats are gluten-free, Paleo-friendly and vegan. Recipe makes 6 servings at 1 blondie each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 156; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 56mg; Carbohydrate: 22g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 12g; Protein: 3g

4. BAKED BANANA FRENCH TOAST | MYFITNESSPAL’S RECIPES

Craving French toast, but don’t want all the calories that usually come along with it? Our baked banana French toast saves you calories and adds nutrition without compromising the traditional flavors you crave. We use simple swaps such as baking instead of frying and whole-grain bread instead of white. Give this dish a personal flair by adding your favorite toppings. Recipe makes 6 servings at 1 (3 1/2-inch) square (165 grams) each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 229; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 125mg; Sodium: 197mg; Carbohydrate: 44g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 18g; Protein: 11g

5. ONE-BOWL BANANA NUT MUFFINS | HEALTHY NIBBLES & BITS

Need a healthy, delicious on-the-go breakfast or a healthy snack to curb your hunger before dinner? Try these one-bowl banana nut muffins. Filled with crunchy walnuts and and fragrant spices, they are sure to be a crowd pleaser. Recipe makes 11 servings at 1 large muffin each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 250; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 17mg; Sodium: 233mg; Carbohydrate: 31g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 13g; Protein: 4g

6. BLACK & WHITE BANANA GRANOLA | TWO OF A KIND

Craving something sweet and crunchy? Make this black-and-white banana granola. Flavored with chocolate and vanilla, this two-toned treat packs a healthy dose of fiber and protein without an overload of sugar. Serve these clusters for breakfast with fruit and yogurt or with recipe number 10 for a sweet treat. Recipe makes 12 servings at 1/4 cup each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 178; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 157mg; Carbohydrate: 21g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 5g

7. GLUTEN-FREE BANANA OAT WAFFLES | KIM’S CRAVINGS

Treat yourself any morning with banana-oat waffles. They’re light and crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside. These clean-eating waffles will satisfy your cravings while keeping you on track with your nutrition goals. Top your waffles with fresh berries or crushed nuts for an extra nutritious boost to kick-start your day. Recipe makes 4 servings at 1 large waffle each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 232; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 93mg; Sodium: 82mg; Carbohydrate: 36g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 10g

8. BANANA BREAD GRANOLA BARS | RUNNING WITH SPOONS

This lightly sweetened granola bar takes banana bread to a new, portable level. These simple bars are made from chewy rolled oats and ground flax and lightly sweetened with ripe bananas, honey and dates. They’re also gluten-free. These make a great post-workout snack. Recipe makes 10 servings at 1 bar each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 130; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 120mg; Carbohydrate: 27g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 14g; Protein: 3g

9. HOMEMADE BANANA “YOGURT” | NUTRITION STRIPPED

This banana “yogurt” is made with deliciously simple whole-food ingredients, and it’s dairy-free! Creamy cashews, fiber-rich ground chia and ripe banana blend together to create a thick, yogurt-like dish that’s creamy and naturally sweet. Recipe makes 2 servings.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 152; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 45mg; Carbohydrate: 23g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 5g

10. ONE-INGREDIENT ICE CREAM | THE KITCHN

The easiest way to save your ripe bananas is to peel them and freeze in a zip-top bag, so you can save them for recipes like this one.This ice cream has just one ingredient, and we think you’ll go bananas over it! Recipe makes 2 servings at 1/2 cup each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 61; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 1mg; Carbohydrate: 16g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 1g

11. HEALTHY BANANA BREAD | COOKIE AND KATE

The most popular quick bread in the book, banana bread is a classic comfort food. Make this fluffy, moist loaf on Sunday, and enjoy it for breakfast or snacks throughout the week. Recipe makes 8 servings.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 240; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 8g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 47mg; Sodium: 322mg; Carbohydrate: 35g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 22g; Protein: 4g

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Ways to Work Out for Free

MyFitnessPal and Ally have teamed up because they both recognize the connection between finances and physical fitness and the important roles they each have on personal well-being.

Under Armour and its affiliates and employees disclaim any responsibility for errors or any consequences arising from the use of this information. All medical information should be reviewed with a health-care provider. For more information, please review the Under Armour Terms and Conditions of Use – Physical Activities.

In theory, staying fit without having to shell out for a pricey gym membership is entirely possible. But actually finding free ways to work out can be a daunting task. To make getting your sweat on a little easier and a lot cheaper, we’ve rounded up the best ways to work out without spending a dime. Your wallet and well-toned butt will thank you.


At Ally, we don’t just care about your finances — we care about you. That’s why we’ve dug deeper into what it means to be financially fit. Just like physical fitness, there are different ways to be financially fit. Your training program depends on what you want to accomplish, and you should approach your financial routine the same way. Find out what kind of financially fit you are with our financial fitness quiz.


1. GET SOME FRESH AIR

The easiest way to get a gratis sweat session is by using your body’s natural ability to run or walk. Go for a jog around your neighborhood or hit your local track for an anywhere, anytime workout. If you’re not already a runner, download a free couch-to-5K plan, and let the training begin.

2. BECOME A STAIR MASTER

If pounding the pavement isn’t your thing, you can still get in some free cardio. Look for staircases in public parks or, if you live in a city, use the stairs in your apartment or office building to get in some Rocky-worthy training — running stairs for 30 minutes will torch over 400 calories.

3. HIT THE TRAILS

Once you get used to working out in the great outdoors, up the ante by checking out local hiking trails. Not only will you burn some serious calories, spending time in nature can also be beneficial to your overall health and wellness. Find all the best parks and insider spots in your area at AllTrails.com.

4. DIVE IN

In the sweltering summer months, take advantage of public pools and beaches — some municipal areas offer free access so you can cool off and tone up in the lap pool. A novice to swimming for exercise? Find a whole library of free swim workouts from Swimming World magazine to inspire your inner Michael Phelps.

5. TURN YOUR HOME INTO A GYM

Little-known fact: Everyday items make great gym equipment. So if you’re looking for free ways to strength train, look no further than your own home. Grab a couple of one-liter wine or water bottles to serve as a set of dumbbells, hold on to a kitchen chair to do tricep dips or squats and use the wall to do some quad-blasting wall sits.

6. GO DIGITAL

The internet is full of free workout content. Start with YouTube, which offers hundreds of channels of free fitness content including yoga, Pilates, HIIT and more. You can also find free fitness guides from celeb trainers, or get workout ideas from the MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun blogs. Consider the web your complimentary personal trainer.

7. GET APP-SAVVY

Just like the web, there are tons of mobile apps specifically geared toward free fitness routines. If you’re in search of a good cardio motivator, try Spotify Running to hit your stride. If Pilates is your thing, download Cassey Ho’s Blogilates. And if you’re constantly on the go, try Fitnet, which offers a variety of mini workouts you can do on the run.

8. MAKE THE MOST OF FREE TRIALS

If you prefer an in-person experience, become a gym sampler. Most gyms offer free trials for potential new members that range from a day pass to a week of free membership or class access. Shop around the gyms in your area, and you can rack up a solid calendar of free workout days — just make sure to cancel any free trials before the charges kick in.

Written by Macaela Mackenzie, a writer based in New York City with a passion for all things active. To see Macaela’s latest work, visit macaelamackenzie.com.

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