Can you walk your way to fitness? Certainly, you can!
Physical activity does not have to be complicated, science shows that placing one foot in front of the other leads to an impressive mental and physical benefits. Here’s how you can make your daily walks more like a workout.
- Proper Gear
Start with wearing the right shoes. Pick a flexible and comfortable pair that gives you support for long walks. Knowing your foot type is very important in choosing the right fit. Also make sure your toes have enough space to spread, you don’t want to have swollen feet and toes by the end of your walk. Then back it up with simple, light and comfortable outfit that will help you move comfortably and freely.
- Get Loose
Before you start walking, take few minutes to boost the blood flow in your body. You can do that by adding dynamic warmup moves to release the hip flexors, quads, calves and upper body. Such moves like leg swings, lunge walks, clave raises, shoulder and neck rotations. 5-10 minutes warmup will get you loose and ready for your walk.
- Push Through
To make your walk feels more like a workout set a goal from the beginning. Whether it’s time based or distance based, setting a goal will keep you motivated to push through. Adding few minutes or more distance each time you go for a walk will boost your workout and will help you build strength.
- Focus on Technique
Keeping in mind the proper technique will definitely give you faster, longer and easier walks as well as reduce the risk of getting injured. Head straight, chin parallel to the ground, back lengthened, shoulders back and down, engaging the core, elbow bent at 90 degrees and swinging the arms from the shoulders as well as stepping from heel to toe are the best tips to keep in mind while walking for a proper form and technique.
- Pick up a Tempo
Start your walk with a slow pace, then increase your speed to a level that you can maintain for longer periods of time. Your target heart rate during walking which is a moderate-intensity exercise is preferably around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Picking up a tempo that gives your heart and lunges a challenging workout but not too hard that you get tired quickly will result in a great workout.
- Try Intervals
Incorporating intervals to your walk, which are short periods of harder efforts; can make it more challenging and fun. You can begin with 1-minute fast walking that is faster than the pace you can maintain for long distances, followed by 1-minute of moderate or slow-paced walking. Repeating this pattern for the duration of the walk will help in improving your cardio-metabolic health and burn more calories in a shorter time, especially if you don’t have the time to walk for longer periods.
- Pump it Up
Integrating weights to your walk can make it more challenging and will help in building strength and improve endurance. Wearing a weighted vest, wrist weights, ankle weights or holding dumbbells while walking is great way to add weights to your walk. But make sure the weight is balanced, and remember that adding weights shouldn’t be at the expense of the proper form.
- Use Elevation
Taking a walk up the hill can be very challenging, it will get your heart rate up and will engage your muscle even more. If you live near an elevated area or street, try taking that route to make your walk a slightly more intense workout with very low impact.
- Add Bodyweight Moves
If your walk includes passing by a park or a smooth paved area, you can try to add bodyweight moves such as walking lunges, planks, toe taps and squats. Break up your walk with strengthening activities, you can go for 2-3 minute walk and then perform 1-minute strength moves for few rounds.
- Uplifting Music
Listening to upbeat and rhythmic music can boost your mood and make your challenging walk easier. It can also help you with maintaining a tempo. There are thousands of playlists on Soundcloud or Spotify, where you can pick the perfect one for you to enjoy during your walk.
Don’t let self-consciousness or what other people might think of you stop you from dancing. While listening to that great playlist you chose, adding dance moves will elevate your heart rate, boost your mood and help you move in different directions. Your walk will be more fun and exciting.
- Track it
Using a fitness tracking device or simply using a basic pedometer smartphone application will show you how many steps you took, your pace and your heart rate zone (for tracking devices) which will help you achieve higher goals with every walk you take.
- Bring a Friend Along
Friends who workout together, stay healthy together. Taking a walk with a friend can keep you stay motivated and enjoy it more. As well as both of you will give each other support or make it fun by racing one another.
- Try Meditation
Any form of exercise can be turned into meditation of some type. Focusing on your breathing during you walk can regulate inflammation and metabolism as well as it can lower the blood pressure. Playing a guided meditation to practice while walking can be a great way to meditate while walking. Studies show that walking meditation can reduce anxiety, improve digestion, well-being and sleep quality.
Stretching actually helps to speed up your fitness results. It boosts circulation, bringing oxygen and vital nutrients to your muscles. Taking few minutes after your walk can ease any strain or fatigue you’ve built during your workout. Standing quadriceps stretch, straight-leg calf stretch, standing hip stretch and posterior shoulder stretch are great for post walking exercise.
In the end, shaking up your walking routine, can add excitement to your workout and bring more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of your walking workout will make it more effective. Simply pick your favorite tip to add some spice to your next walk.