In a world filled with flashy new fitness studios on nearly every corner, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest workout du jour. But a walking workout is among the easier — and more underrated — ways to work up a sweat.
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 whole body without putting undo stress on your joints. Additionally, it can help prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes, not to mention its ability to strengthen bones and muscles.
But we’re not talking about a leisurely stroll through the park. To get the most from a walking workout, you need to move quickly and add on. To really make a walk count, incorporate the following good advice.
Reap more cardiovascular benefits and burn more calories by adding short bursts of speed work. Try walking at a brisk pace for two to three minutes and then walking as fast as you can without running for 20-30 seconds.
Hit the Hills
For a toned tush, head for the hills. Walking uphill at a moderate pace forces you to work harder and use more muscle power, increasing your calorie expenditure. Make sure to keep good posture on hills, leaning slightly forward, and resist the urge to speed on the way down. Short, slow steps on the decline are easier on your knees.
Pumping your arms helps you pick up the pace — and it can burn up to 10 percent more calories. Try bending them at a 90-degree angle and swinging, using your shoulders to power them forward, while keeping them close to your sides.
Add Some Variety
Sure treadmills and tracks are great, but the surface isn’t very challenging. Go on a hike or walk in grass or gravel to challenge your balance and coordination. Better yet, take a long walk on the beach. Walking in sand can burn up to 50 percent more calories than other surfaces.
Create Your Own Outdoor Gym
To get a total body workout, utilize your surroundings. A park bench is a great place to do tricep dips. Use steps or curbs for calf raises or lunges. Or simply stop and do 10 push-ups and 10 squats every 10 minutes. If you get creative, you can get more from your walking workout.
Bonny Osterhage is co-founder and small-group trainer at BodyArchitecture Personal Training and Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.