When it comes to walking, what’s not to love?
Going for a walk doesn’t just allow you to get in some effective exercise, it can also be a way to take in some scenery both at home and while vacationing.
Going for a walk can clear your mind and reduce stress.
Dog owner? You can spend time with your furry friend while both of you enjoy some fresh air, sunshine (or rain), and a nice stroll around the block.
You don’t need a gym membership, or the accompanying fees, to gain all the benefits that are to be had by walking as a means of exercise.
- Walking is a proven way to improve your mood.
- It’s a workout that can be done no matter your fitness level.
- Walking is a workout that can progress in difficulty with your level of fitness.
- Walking’s a great way to burn fat to aid in weight loss.
- Walking has been found to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
Even Mark Twain was fond of a nice stroll, noting that “golf is a good walk spoiled,” well, either that or he simply wasn’t a fan of golf. 😉
Either way, a “good walk” is a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to get, or stay, fit.
Even just leisurely walks boast many benefits, but those benefits compound when you walk for fitness.
Unfortunately, like most activities, we can become complacent and not even realize our routine needs a bit of a boost. Or, maybe you’re an avid walker and you know your routine needs a boost.
Whether you’re a seasoned stroller looking for ways to improve your walking workout, or a newcomer when it comes to walking for health and fitness, we’re here to help!
Check out the list below for ways to amp up your walking routine so you won’t get bored and you’ll get the most out of each step towards a healthier you.
1- Find A Walking Buddy
From furry four-legged buddies to the kind that walk upright on two feet, walking with a friend can keep you motivated and make you push yourself a bit harder.
And, when it comes to health and fitness, support can be a huge factor in success.
Studies actually show that in older adults, working out (or walking) with a group not only aids in improving or maintaining health, but also helps individuals to enjoy life more as a whole.
2- Warm Up
Want to get the most out of your walk? Get your heart pumping and blood flowing before you even get those steps in.
Spending a bit of time pre-walk warming and loosening up the muscles you’re getting ready to use can prevent injury and even make your walk a bit more comfortable.
Legs swings, lunges, calf raises, and squats are all great movements to warm up your thighs, calves, quads, and hip flexors before you set out on your walk.
3- Track It
Using a pedometer, fitness app, or fitness watch can be a motivating and helpful tool even for walking.
These tools can effectively measure your steps and some can even evaluate other stats like heart rate and breathing as you walk.
And, these tools can especially be effective at helping you to increase your pace and/or distance, thereby improving your fitness, over time.
4- Go The Distance
Since we just mentioned the ability to track your walks for the purpose of motivation, speed, and distance, we’ll jump right into the topic of distance.
If you’re stuck in a walking rut, set a goal to go farther or cover more ground.
You can do this by walking longer (time wise) or by walking farther (distance). Whatever you’ve become accustomed to, push yourself a bit to bump up intensity and improve your fitness and health.
If you’ve been walking for 30 minutes daily, seek to do 35-40 minutes daily for a while, and then you can even increase again once that begins to feel comfortable.
Or, if your time varies but you’re used to walking 2 miles each time you walk, shoot for 2.5 miles and see how that feels. Feeling good? Chances are your body was ready for more.
I’m definitely not advocating for pushing to the point of injury, but pushing yourself is an essential part of improving your health and fitness.
5- Add Some Equipment
One way to get more out of your walk is to add some weight to carry while steppin’.
You can certainly carry along some small dumbbells or hand weights on your walk to add some intensity, but ankle, wrist, and even chest weights can be easy additions to your wardrobe as well.
Wearing a weighted vest or velcro ankle/wrist weights can help you get in some strength training as you walk your way to a healthy cardiovascular system.
6- Interval Training
Interval training isn’t just for the circuit at the gym or for HIIT lovers. Varying the intensity of your walk is a great way to get in some effective interval training.
Alternating your speed on your walk not only provides variety in your workout to keep you interested, it is also proven to:
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Decrease your likelihood of having a stroke
- Lessen your risk of diabetes
Just 10 minutes of interval training has just as many health benefits as 50 minutes of walking at a consistent pace.
And, it doesn’t have to be too complicated. The next time you go for a walk, try increasing your pace for 5 minutes, then slowing back down for 5 and alternate like that for the duration of your walk.
If you’re looking to increase your pace in a greater way, you can lessen the fast paced times (perhaps 3 minutes instead of 5), then give yourself a few minutes to recover.
7- Pump It Up
While you’re walking, seek to get your arms involved as well.
As you stroll, swinging or pumping your arms (as seen with walkers at races) provides more cardio benefit and may even help to increase your pace which is a great way, in and of itself, to boost the effects of your walk.
For best form (to increase speed):
- Bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle.
- Keep your hands relaxed with your fingers closed only partially.
- Keep your elbows close to your body.
- Swing your arms opposite of your feet. In other words, when your left foot is forward, your right arm should be forward, and so on.
- As your left foot goes back, your left arm should begin moving forward.
- The hand moving forward should always remain low, not coming up above your breastbone.
- Be careful not to overextend your arms when you move them back as this can cause you to bend or lean forward.
8- Change It Up
Seek to not only try different places to walk, but change up the terrain as well.
It can get boring to walk in the same place all the time, so a change of scenery can keep you motivated.
But, changing the terrain from flat to hilly or even just switching up the surface type can boost your calorie burn while walking. For instance, walking on grass and/or gravel actually burns more calories than walking on pavement (or a track).
Walking on hills as opposed to flat surfaces will also allow you to use different muscle groups than just walking on one type of surface all the time.
9- Bring Some Tunes
While I would advise you to be sure you are fully aware of your surroundings while listening to music on a walk outdoors, that’s about the only caution sign when it comes to walking to tunes.
Listening to music while you walk can keep you going for a longer amount of time, boost motivation, and you can even improve your pace while walking to music. In fact, you can even find playlists set to a specific pace to challenge your current tempo.
10- Reverse It
Walking backwards, or retro walking, is said to truly bump up the intensity of your walk.
Now, obviously this isn’t for the severely uncoordinated, we don’t want any injuries, but walking backwards, even at very slow speeds is known to intensify your training.
The best outdoor terrain when attempting this: flat.
The best method to begin: slow and calculated.
The best safety measures: bring a friend so you can each monitor one another to avoid any missteps.
The best equipment: treadmill or stair climbers are said to be good options to incorporate this walking method.
11- Be Sure You Have The Right Gear
Walking is definitely one of the most inexpensive exercises, but it’s not cost-free.
If you’re going to make walking your go-to means of cardiovascular activity, you should be sure you’re wearing the right shoes to avoid injury.
What to wear- try to find shoes with flexible soles, and on normal terrain, look for shoes that are low-heeled, comfy, cushioned, and lightweight.
What not to wear- shoes with stiff or hard soles that have no “give” are not recommended for walking.
12- Don’t Forget To Stretch
It’s easy to skip the after-walk stretch, but omitting this step can lead to sore muscles and even injury.
Take a few moments to stretch those muscles you just worked on your walk to ensure proper recovery…which will also allow you to keep coming back for more steps, miles, and minutes!
Fat burning elixirs help drop 5 Ibs
Personally, I love discovering biohacks that help me to help me optimize my health and reach my fitness goals. That is why I’m so excited to share with you a simple, powerful “metabolic hack” that I learned of from my good friend Meredith Shirk.
As a certified personal trainer, Meredith has used this “metabolic hack” to help hundreds of her clients in their 40s, 50s and beyond to…
naturally burn stubborn fat and shed as much as 5-7 Ibs per week.
Want to try it yourself?
Take 3oz. of warm water, 1 tbsp. of honey, 1 tbsp. of lemon juice, 1 tsp. of ginger (ground or fresh), and 1 pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix and drink.
(special report – Meredith’s gift to you!)