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Strength Move for Walkers: Squat

Add a kick to your walking speed with stronger glutes and legs.

By Michele Stanten

Walking is an amazing, effective exercise—but strength training at least twice a week is also a key component of a well-rounded fitness plan and the SilverSneakers Million Pound Challenge.

What's so great about strength training? For starters, it helps prevent muscle loss that naturally occurs with age. Preserving our muscles makes it easier to do almost any activity: getting out of bed, climbing stairs, shopping for groceries, playing pickleball, going on vacation.

Plus, it can boost your walking and weight loss results. A stronger lower body means a more powerful, faster stride, which burns more calories. And more muscle in general keeps your metabolism in high gear, making it easier to lose weight or at least prevent weight gain.

With the Million Pound Challenge, you have a lot of flexibility with the strength portion of the plan. You can take a SilverSneakers class or other group fitness class that incorporates strength training, or try a new gym workout. Or you can follow along with me as I share one new strength move each week to help you build a five-move circuit by the end of the month.

Our first move is the squat, which targets your legs and glutes-key walking muscles. Ready to get started?

Step #1: Place Feet Hip-Width Apart

Your toes and knees should be facing forward. Keep your abs nice and tight. You can relax your arms at your sides.

Step #2: Hinge Hips and Sit Back

Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body as if you're sitting in a chair. You can let your arms come forward to help you balance. Keep your chest lifted and your weight in your heels as you lower. Don't let your knees cave in or extend far past your toes.

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Step #3: Press into Heels and Stand Up

Squeeze your glutes as you stand. Aim to do three sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Make It Your Own

Like most exercises, you can-and should-customize the squat to make it work for you. Try this:

  • To make it easier, do a chair stand. Sit down at the edge of a chair, and stand up without using your hands.
  • To make it harder, hold dumbbells down at your sides or by your shoulders as you squat.

Note: The exercises in this workout may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.

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