How to Make the Most of a Walking Workout

Walking has always been my cardio of choice — it’s free, requires no equipment other than a pair of sturdy sneakers, and you can do it anywhere, anytime! Whether you’re 8 or 88, you can hit the roads at a pace that works for you and your fitness level. You’ll rev your metabolism, reduce stress, and boost your overall wellness: Studies show that 30 minutes of moderate-paced walking can be just as beneficial for your heart health and your overall fitness as a run!

Even a leisurely stroll through town will help you burn calories, but to really make the most of every moment you’re walking, try these tips.

Work out in the a.m. Though physiologically, it doesn’t matter when you work out, my favorite way to start the day is by taking a refreshing, calorie-boosting walk first thing in the morning! That way, it’s out of the way before the day gets too hectic – and you’ll appreciate the time to clear your mind and gear up for the day ahead.

Step lively. It may seem like long, lanky strides would help you feel the burn, but actually, shorter, faster steps use more energy. Put a spring in your step, and lots of steps in your walk, to maximize your calorie burn.

Take fitness breaks. Mix up your workout by stopping your walk every few minutes to do something else — a set of jumping jacks or lunges, a few pushups or crunches. That’ll help you ensure that all of your muscle groups get a workout.

Add poles or weights. Small Ankle or wrist weights can add a strength-training element to your walk. Weights like these make it so easy to get extra toning benefits while you’re exercising — and they’re so easy to wear!

Change the pace. Try a little interval training: Start out at a relaxed pace, then pump it up to a moderate pace, and then alternate 5 minutes of moderate walking with a few minutes’ blast of what I call “peak fitness zone,” – or, walking at a pretty fast nice clip (or even jogging!). End with a cooling, slow-paced walk to bring your heart rate down naturally.You’ll boost your fitness and aerobic levels even faster!

Head for the hills. Walking on an incline makes your workout tougher and helps you burn more calories — up to 30 percent more if you choose the hills over flat terrain. Look for a hilly path to help you get your own all-natural interval training workout!

Monitor your workout. Use a Pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take during each workout — or better yet, each day. Log your results to keep tabs on your progress. The more steps you take, the better, so challenge yourself to increase the count every day!

Mix up your routine. It can be easy to keep following the same loop, day after day. But variety is the spice of life! Try heading down a different road, moving your workout to a beautiful park in a different neighborhood, or even just doing your loop in a different direction for a change of pace. Keeping your route fun and interesting will help you stay engaged, and on track to meet your goals!

Listen to upbeat music. I love to load my iPod with all my favorite songs – it helps me look forward to my workouts! Music with a fast beat (120 beats per minute) will push you to walk faster, burning more calories with every minute. And studies have shown that people who listened to upbeat, fast-paced music often felt motivated to keep working out longer.

Make it fun. Bring a friend along for the journey! You’ll be more likely to stick to your new routine if you can chat with a good pal and catch up on life while you exercise. Make a workout “date” will ensure you stick with your workout plans – and as a bonus, you’ll encourage a friend to be healthy as well!

Posted in Wellness Resources