Although it’s not considered a killer workout like, say, P90X or marathon training, research shows that walking is still an awesome form of exercise and can lower your risk of dangerous conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. That said, when it comes to walking for your health, you can stroll or you can really walk. Want to make every step count? We consulted the experts to find out how to power up your walking workout to burn more calories, tone up all over, and banish boredom:
Tip #1: Know your heart-rate training range. You get the most out of your cardio workout when your heart is in your own personal “training range,” which determines how hard you should work for light, moderate, and high-intensity levels.
Tip #2: Think short, quick steps. That’s the key to a faster pace, and the faster you walk, the more calories you burn.
Tip #3: Land on your heels. A little bit of attention to your walking technique can help make it more fun and comfortable. Instead of landing with your whole foot — and making a clomp, clomp, clomp sound — let your heel be the first part of your foot to hit the ground. Focus on keeping your toes up as you land, and then smoothly roll from your heel to toe.
Tip #4: Switch up your surfaces. Try a dirt trail one day, a road the next, a treadmill on rainy days, and maybe even a rubberized track. By changing the surface, you’ll reduce the risk of injury and keep yourself from getting stuck in a rut
Tip #5: Enlist a buddy. Just like playing against someone a little better than you in basketball will improve your game, walking with someone a little faster than you will help you burn more calories — and get you to work toward sustaining a better pace.
Tip #6: Add intervals. Add short intervals of jogging or faster walking to your basic walking workout, and you’ll up your cardio conditioning and boost calorie burn.
Tip #7: Pump it up. It sounds simple — and it is! When you’re walking, focus on arm movements. You should be pumping those guns at all times, because the more you move ’em, the better your workout.
Tip #8: Get inclined. Adding stairs and inclines into your walking route builds bone density in your hips and firms up your glutes. To boost your workout further, power up stairs two at a time.
Tip #9: Get a buzz. The right kind of buzz, that is — one you can create with a little cup of coffee and the right workout playlist. Walking to fast music naturally makes you walk faster, and tone up quicker. And drink a little caffeine before you go. Studies show it can make you go faster and longer.
Tip #10: Mix up your routine. When you do the same routine for more than a few months, the cardiovascular and muscular systems stop improving because they’re used to the setup and no longer have to strain to adjust to your workout. Plus, you get bored. Here are some suggestions:
High-gear: 30 minutes total. Include 5 minutes of warm up, 5 minutes of cool down, and sustain the fastest pace you can for 20 minutes in the middle.
Intervals: 45 minutes total. Alternate between high-intensity and recovery periods. Allow 10 minutes for warm up and 5 minutes for cool down. For 30
minutes, do 5 intervals of 2 minutes each at high intensity, alternating with 4 minutes of recovery at a slower or moderate pace.
Long, slow distance: 60 minutes total. Use a steady, moderate pace the entire time. If you can’t do it all at once, break it up into 10 or 15 minute segments throughout the day — you’ll still get the same benefits.