Eight ways to get more out of your walk.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it for the rest of your life: Walking is good for your health. It aids in weight loss, decreases your stress levels, and is an exercise that just about anyone can do anywhere, any time. It’s simple, free, easy on the joints, and accessible. While any movement is better than none, there are ways to increase the benefits from your walk. If you’re going to take the time to exercise, you might as well get the most out of it.
Here are eight ways to make sure your walk isn’t in vain but is working for your good.
1. Set a Goal
Having something to work towards is the first step in walking success. You’ll be more likely to stick with your routine and reach your fitness goals if you have a plan that’s challenging and achievable at the same time. For walking, your goal could be to go farther, longer, or faster each day or week.
2. Chart Your Progress
Keep an exercise journal in which you record your walks and track your progress. Exercise apps and pedometers are helpful for this. In your journal, take note of your distance, time, pace, number of steps, how you feel during your walk, weight loss, and heart rate.
3. Go for the Hills
You’ll get more out of your walk, burn more calories, and get in shape faster if you include inclines. This could be hills in your neighborhood, steps in your house, stadium stairs at your local school, or just an increased incline on the treadmill. Avoid super steep hills though, since they can be hard on your back. Aim to walk hills two to three days out of the week.
4. Pick Up the Pace
A brisk walk will get your heart pumping and lungs breathing more than a leisurely pace can. Get to a point in your walk where carrying on a conversation becomes difficult but not impossible. Start each walk with a three-minute warm-up, and then increase the pace so your level of exertion is enough to get your heart beating fast for 20 to 30 minutes. End each walk with a three-minute cool-down.
5. Add Intervals
Interval training is one of the best ways to maximize your workout and burn calories. To include intervals in a walking routine, alternate brisk, high-intensity walking with a slower, low-intensity pace of walking after your warm-up. Intervals can be measured by time or distance. To do an interval, alternate between three minutes of brisk walking or walking uphill with a one-minute interval of normal-paced walking on a level surface. Or walk two blocks at a fast pace and one block at a slower pace.
6. Use Correct Technique
When you walk, you should look ahead, stand up straight, hold in your abs, tighten your glutes, and relax your shoulders. You’ll burn more calories if you move more than your legs, so swing your arms as you stroll the neighborhood. Roll your foot from heel to toe and push off from the ball of your foot.
7. Wear Supportive Shoes
Let’s face it. High heels or flats aren’t the best walking shoes. Anyone who’s walked any distance in these types of shoes knows this to be true. Protect your feet, legs, and lower back by wearing a shoe that’s comfortable, designed for walking, and supports the shape of your foot.
8. Add a Challenge
If you want a challenge, walk with Nordic poles. As with skiing, poles work your upper body muscles, increase calorie burn, and lessen the stress of hills on your joints. Walking with a weighted vest or weighted backpack are other ways to boost the intensity. Hand and ankle weights, on the other hand, are no longer recommended ways of increasing the intensity of your walk, as they tend to do more damage than good.