Walking for Exercise: 5 Ways to Switch Up Your Routine
Recent trends observed by the CDC have shown that walking is, by far, the most popular physical activity for the average American adult.
It’s easy to fit into a busy schedule, is gentler on the joints, and works as both a cardio warm-up, workout, and cool down.
Timothy Gardner, MD, and former president of the American Heart Association adds, “just a few extra steps each day is a simple and easy way to take an active role in maintaining a significantly healthier life.”
Experts recommend at least 2 ½ hours of moderate activity (including walking) during a week, which can be divided into small 5 to 10 minute sessions through your day to add up to amazing weight loss results.
Yet if you’re already walking for exercise on a regular basis, it can seem that putting one foot in front of the other day in and day out is the fastest way to a workout rut. Fortunately, you can spruce up your walking routine with these 5 techniques.
Speed Walk to Success
Rather than casually strolling through the neighborhood, get your arms involved and start pumping them vigorously (at a 90-degree angle) while you increase your pace. This can burn as much as 5-10% more calories than regular walking.
Don’t let your arms swing loosely, however, because “the larger the arm swing, the harder it is to move them faster, “says Iknoian, MS, and author of Fitness Walking.
Take a Dive
If the weather permits, take your workout to the pool and walk in the waist deep water from one end of the pool to the other. The water adds extra resistance to your steps but is much easier on the joints than walking on ordinary land.
Taking it to the deep end? No sweat – just strap on a floatation belt and you’ll be ready to go.
If you have no problems with balance and there isn’t a potentially hazardous object to run into, try walking backwards or side to side to switch things up a bit. Or for a tougher workout, get down and do some crab walking across your living room.
Forward motion can also be unpredictable and exciting when you change your stride every minute or so, taking longer or shorter or faster and slower strides to challenge your muscles in different ways.
Make it an Uphill Battle
Although that hill at the end of your street might not look like much, adding a small incline to your walk can increase your caloric expenditure and build more muscle than simply walking on a flat surface. If you have an adjustable treadmill, try increasing the incline by 1% every few weeks to make it more of a challenge.
You could even try doing intervals with the hills, walking uphill for a few minutes and then downhill to recover.
Tip: Don’t make the incline so steep that you can’t maintain proper form or have to cling to the treadmill for support.
Bond with Your Dog
Both you and your dog could use the exercise, so get outside for some quality play time. If your dog is trotting alongside you, you’ll be sure to keep a fairly steady pace. Make sure that your dog doesn’t pull too much on the leash though; it could be dangerous for both you and your pet.
As you can see, walking can be more than your ordinary humdrum cardio routine and with a little extra creativity, you can make walking for exercise a fun and exciting way to lose weight and stay in shape.
Whenever possible, try to walk with a buddy and carry a cell phone in case of emergencies.