10 Ways to Maximize Your Walking Workout
Sticking with the same walking routine day after day can start to feel monotonous. Worse yet, if your body becomes too accustomed to your workout, you’ll start to see fewer results. Changing your workout can not only help you to challenge yourself further, but it can also prevent boredom and keep you energized and excited to get walking and stay walking.
No matter what the reason, you can use any of these ten ways, or a combination of them, to maximize your workout and your results.
Head for the hills
Walking uphill is one of the easiest ways to add an incline to your walk. By walking on an incline, you can significantly increase the calorie expenditure of every minute of your walking workout. The higher the incline, the more you challenge the muscles in your core and lower body.
Therefore, the higher the incline and the more often you walk on an incline, the faster you’ll see results. Not only will incline walking help to speed weight loss, but it will also help to tone and tighten your glutes and core.
Keep in mind that if you suffer from back or knee issues, walking at an incline may not be appropriate for you. Always follow the advice of your physician.
No matter how fast or slow your current walking pace, you can always work on slowly increasing your individual walking speed. The faster your walking speed, the more calories per minute you burn. And the more calories you burn, the quicker you can lose weight and keep it off.
If you’re not sure how to get started with increasing your speed, try this: Walk at your normal pace and time yourself to see how long it takes you to walk 1 mile. No matter how long it takes, the next time you go for a walk, try to walk slightly faster and see whether you can complete the mile 30 seconds faster.
Once you have accomplished this, aim to shave another 30 seconds off your mileage time. Repeat this over and over again until you can successfully walk a mile in 15 minutes or less.
Step it up
It may sound simple, but adding a few bouts of stair climbing to your walk can make your workout significantly more challenging. Walking up stairs challenges all the muscles in your lower body and core. Challenging these muscles helps you to increase strength and muscle mass, boosting metabolism.
In addition, as these muscles strengthen, they help to tone and tighten your lower body, speeding your loss of inches. Stair climbing can also increase bone density in your hips and spine, helping to fight against osteoporosis.
Adding resistance training, such as using dumbbells to perform strength‐training exercises either during your walking workout or directly before or after can speed results in a variety of ways. First, strength‐training exercises help to build and strengthen muscle.
The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism, which causes you to burn more calories throughout the day. In addition, strengthening muscle helps to tone and tighten areas of the body such as the thighs and core, helping you to lose inches. And finally, adding resistance training increases the intensity of your workout, meaning that you burn more calories during the duration of your workout, maximizing your weight‐loss efforts.
Mix it up
Not only can performing the same exercise day in and day out become boring (which can make it challenging to continue with your exercise routine), but your body also can become accustomed to your workout plan. When this happens, your body is no longer as challenged as it once was. And when your body no longer has to work as hard to complete an exercise, you end up burning fewer calories during your workout.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important to mix up your walking routine. You don’t want to walk in the same exact way day after day, or your results will start to stagnate. From day to day, vary your speed, the length of your walk, the incline level, and even where you walk. The more you vary your workout, the better and faster your results!
Interval training can sound complicated, but it really isn’t. The practice is just one of varying the intensity of your workout throughout the duration of the entire workout. When it comes to walking, this can be done by varying your speed or your incline.
For example, to vary your speed, if you choose to walk for 30 minutes, you can incorporate intervals by walking at a moderate pace for 5 minutes, followed by walking as fast as you can for 1 minute, and then returning back to the moderate pace and repeating this pattern for the duration of the walk.
Focus on daily activity and structured walks
If you’ve been performing a structured walk at least a few times per week for exercise and aren’t seeing the results you expected, then you also want to focus on your level of daily activity.
Research has shown that sometimes when individuals start an exercise program, they actually become less active the rest of the day. So now, even though you burn additional calories during your walking workout, being less active the rest of the day causes your metabolism to be slower, leading to slow or stalled weight‐loss results.
To prevent this, don’t just focus on a fitness walk each day; make sure to also track your overall daily movement. This tracking can easily be done by wearing a pedometer for the duration of the day or a fitness tracker that even tracks sleep patterns. Put a pedometer on as soon as you wake up in the morning and wear it until you go to bed at night.
Make sure that on days when you are walking for exercise, you continue to get just as many steps (and hopefully more) than on days when you don’t exercise. If you notice the number of steps you take throughout the day is low, work on picking it up by squeezing in short bouts of walking anywhere you can.
Make it last
If you feel as though your weight‐loss results have slowed or stalled, try increasing the time during which you walk each day. Even as little as five extra minutes of walking each day of the week can result in increased weight loss and improved health.
If you walk for a set period of time each day, slowly add one to two minutes to this time each day. Aim to add anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to your current walk. The longer you walk, the quicker you’ll see results.
There are so many gadgets and gizmos on the market today, from Fitbit integrated with digital scales to Garmin’s vívosmart fitness tracker to mobile phone GPS mapping apps to simple pedometers, it can feel a little overwhelming.
However, many fitness gadgets can actually help you increase the effectiveness of your walk and see results more quickly. Some fitness tools can track the speed and duration of your walk, so you can use these to increase your walking intensity steadily over time. Other gadgets just make walking more fun, and the more you enjoy your workout, the more likely you are to stick with it.
To many walkers, stretching can be an afterthought; however, stretching on a regular basis can actually help to speed your fitness results. When you stretch, you boost circulation, bringing oxygen and vital nutrients to your muscles. When this occurs, muscles can repair and strengthen more quickly, helping to prevent walking‐related injuries that can sideline your workout.
In addition, stretching can increase your overall range of motion. As this occurs, your gait may improve, which can allow you to walk at a quicker pace, further enhancing your results. Foam rollers, stretching bands, and exercise balls are very useful ways to help enhance flexibility as well. You can purchase them at many sporting goods stores as well as online at retailers.
Most important, stretching after your muscles are warm feels good. You feel energized and ready to hit the road. The better you feel, the more likely you are to push yourself to walk quicker, farther, or at a higher incline. And the more you’re able to safely push yourself, the more effective each walk becomes and the faster you ultimately see results.