Walking is the universal exercise. Most people can do it, and it doesn’t require special training or equipment. It’s also more orthopedically-friendly than running. After all, who wants to end up on the sidelines with a running injury? When you first start a walking program, you may find the weight drops off, and your clothes feel a little looser. But once you’ve walked for a while, your body adapts and you stop seeing improvements. That means it’s time to kick up the intensity a notch. Fortunately, there are ways to do this whether you walk outdoors or on a treadmill. Here are five ways to make a walking program more effective.
Tackle a Hill
Walking at an incline works your cardiovascular system more intensely and burns more calories, but add hills to your routine gradually. If you’re walking outdoors, vary your route so you tackle one hill during each walk. When you’re no longer huffing and puffing at the top, add another one. If you’re walking on a treadmill, begin at an incline of 1%, and add another 1% every two weeks. If it starts to feel so challenging that you can’t maintain proper form, bring the incline down. Walking up hills will add a new dimension to your workout and increase your fitness gains as well.
Do Interval Walking
Intervals walking burns more calories and boosts aerobic capacity significantly more than walking at a steady pace. When you’re walking, choose an arbitrary point in the distance like a tree or mailbox. Walk as quickly as you can to the designated point. Then slow the pace down and recover for two minutes. Repeat the sequence as many times as you can. To burn more calories during the intervals, swing your arms with vigor during the more intense intervals. You’ll burn up to 10% more calories just by moving your arms. Keep challenging yourself to go a little faster and a little longer during the intense intervals – and don’t be surprised when the scale reads a few pounds lighter in a few weeks.
Wear a Weighted Vest
You’ll burn more calories and boost your cardiovascular fitness by wearing a weighted vest when you walk. Weighted vests like the Walkvest have pockets you can fill with weights to make your walk more challenging. You can increase the load in the pockets as little as 2 pounds or as much as 16. Start with the lower poundage and gradually work your way up as it becomes less challenging. Another benefit? Carrying the additional weight puts more stress on your bones and helps to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Nordic walking is a proven way to burn more calories and engage the muscles in your upper body while you work out. To walk Nordic style, you would walk briskly while swinging a rubber-tipped pole in each hand, similar to a ski pole. Walking Nordic style forces you to take longer strides. This burns more calories and boosts your heart rate more. Ready to get started? You can buy Nordic walking poles at most sporting goods stores.
Listen to Fast-Paced Music
Listening to fast-paced music while walking will motivate you to move faster. It also reduces the perceived exertion, which means it doesn’t feel as hard. Do this when you’re walking on the treadmill, but keep your ears open and alert when walking outside to stay safe.
The Bottom Line?
Walking is an effective form of exercise, but you’ll increase the benefits when you make it more challenging. Give these walking tips a try. They’ll increase your fitness level, burn more calories and take your walking routine to a whole, new level.
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