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Fun Walking Programs
Getting Fit with Maps, Playing Cards and the Tour de France

I've never been good at doing something just because "it's good for me." I need some motivation and prefer when there's a goal to shoot for. That's why cardio tends to be hard for me to get into.

Resistance programs keep me somewhat engaged because I'm continually changing weights and machines. Riding a bike, running on a treadmill or endless hours of elliptical seem just like, work. But they don't have to be. If you really want to make cardio more interesting, here are three things that may do the trick.

The Card Trick

Use a deck of cards to design a circuit workout. Assign different cardio exercises to each suit. For example: Hearts may equal jogging and diamonds may mean jumping rope.

Once you decide what the suits will be, use the numbers to determine how long or how many of a particular exercise you're going to do. Here's how I've marked mine.

ClubsDiamonds Spades Hearts

Begin your workout by shuffling the deck to ensure a random program. Then start drawing cards to figure out how your workout's going to unfold. If I draw the 3 of diamonds, I'll start with 3 minutes of jumping rope. If the next card is a 9 of hearts, I have to jog for 9 minutes.

If I draw a face card, then I keep drawing until I get a numbered card. The face card tells me what exercise I'm doing next. The numbered card that follows tells me how many of that exercise to perform.

Keep that up until your workout time is over. It's never the same workout twice.

Map Walking

Another way to keep cardio interesting is by using it to explore the world around you. I call it the Map Walking program.

Get a street map of the city or town you live in. Then use a pencil to sketch out your route each day, making sure to plan your course so that every day you cover different streets. Bring the pencil and map along with you when you walk if you make changes or somehow deviate from your plan. When you finish, use a highlighter marker and color in the streets you've walked.

It gives a tremendous sense of accomplishment to watch the map get filled in as you complete each of the streets in a neighborhood or town. If you live in a larger city, break it down into areas of special interest like historical sections or scenic places. Just be sure to avoid any places you don't feel safe.

In my hometown of Key West, I've used the Map Walking program to explore every street in town. (Click Here for a free downloadable map of Key West that includes locations of historically interesting places. This map provided courtesy of True Secrets of Key West Revealed!) For maps of other towns, visit Google, Yahoo, MSN or Mapquest.

Transform a Race

If you're looking for a real challenge, choose an extreme race and run or walk a local version of it. The Tour de France is a great example. The actual race covers 3,500 kilometers and in 2008 starts July 5th and ends July 27th.

Make your own version by changing the big numbers into something more manageable.

For the Tour de France, change the kilometers into minutes. 3,500 minutes is a little more than 58 hours. Then schedule 58 hours of workouts and cardio between now and the end of the race—mark off your time or distance after each session. Once you start, you'll be less likely to skip your exercise if you're "competing" than if you just have to show up and workout.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.