Hello Healthy asks, “Is your daily walking workout challenging you?” It should be! In order to improve your fitness level and continue getting results, you have to keep changing up your routine to make your body work in new ways. And yes, you can do all of that while sticking to walking as your preferred form of exercise.
Next time you lace up your sneakers to head out for a sweat session, try one of these simple ways to increase your calorie burn and amp up your daily walk:
1. Pick up the pace.
If you find yourself walking at the same pace day in and day out, adding music or bringing a fast-moving buddy could be the perfect motivator to get you to move at a quicker clip. At least a couple of days a week, try to walk faster during your entire workout by matching your steps to the beat of a fast song. Keep your steps short and fierce.
Tip: You’ll know you’re walking fast enough if it’s tough to hold a normal conversation because you’re running out of breath.
2. Add some weight.
While it’s not really a good idea to use hand or ankle weights when you walk—weights can cause overuse injuries or change your natural gait—you can wear a weighted vest, which will add resistance to your center of gravity and up the intensity of your walk.
Tip: Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and brace your abdominals as you walk.
3. Climb some hills.
If your regular walking routine has you on flat terrain for the entire time, you’ll notice immediate cardio benefits if you find a place to walk with incline. If you can’t find hills outdoors in your area, you can always hop on a treadmill and put the incline up to anywhere between 7–15 percent for a portion of your walk.
Tip: If you use the treadmill, don’t hold onto the railings; pump your arms to burn even more calories.
4. Break up your walk with intervals.
If you really want to power up your workout, you need to change up the intensity by adding a few spurts of faster walking in between your normal pace.
Tip: Use a watch to time yourself. After a five-minute warm-up, complete 30 seconds of super-fast power-walking followed by one minute of regular walking as active recovery; continue this pattern for the duration of your walk.
5. Find new terrain.
Do you live near a grassy park or beach? If so, try challenging your body by walking on a surface other than just pavement. Or, if you’re always on the treadmill, try walking outdoors.
Tip: If you really want to feel your leg muscles working in new ways, take your shoes off and walk along the beach one day in bare feet. Be prepared to feel the burn.
There’s a reason that walking is one of the most beneficial and universal forms of exercise in the world—it’s low-impact, free and almost everyone can do it. So get out there, get your steps in and walk yourself into better shape.