Walking Your Way to Fit
By: Bonny Osterhage
If you think walking is just for beginners, think again. When done correctly, walking is a very effective way to burn calories and tone your entire body, all without putting undo stress and strain on your joints. Walking, like most forms of exercise, also releases those feel good endorphins, improving your mood, and even helping to relieve stress and anxiety. We’re not talking about a leisurely stroll through the park, however. To get the most benefits from a walking workout, whether indoors or out, try a few of these tips:
- Incorporate Intervals: Do you know the benefits of doing a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout? By raising and lowering your heart rate in quick bursts, you are burning more calories and building your cardiovascular endurance. How do you do it? Try walking at a brisk pace for 2-3 minutes and then increasing your pace (or speed on the treadmill) for 20-30 seconds. Repeat for 8-10 intervals.
- Head for the Hills: For a tighter tush, incorporate some inclines. Walking uphill at a moderate pace forces you to work harder and use more muscle power, increasing your calorie burn. To protect your knees, make sure that you lean just slightly forward while climbing, and take shorter, slower steps on the way down.
- Pump It Up: If you want to burn more calories, pump those arms! For a proper, powerful pump, keep your arms close to your sides at a 90-degree angle. Rather than flailing them, use your shoulders to move your arms forward at a controlled and even pace.
- Challenge Your Balance: If you want to work on balance, core strength, and coordination, get off the treadmill and get on a different path. Try hiking trails or walk in grass or on gravel. Different terrains require you to use different muscles for stability, plus they demand that you engage your brain to avoid injury. An added bonus? They can increase your calorie burn substantially.
- Get Creative: If a full-body workout is what you want, use your surroundings to add strength intervals to your walk. Use a park bench for triceps dips. Steps or curbs are perfect for calf raises, and split stance lunges. Or simply stop and perform 10 push-ups and 10 squats every 10 minutes for a total body burn.
One of the best things about walking is that it requires no fancy equipment, no pricey gym membership, and it’s something anyone can do. Just lace up your sneakers, hit the road, and reap the rewards.