Walking is one of the most fantastic forms of exercise! It’s a great way to burn calories, can be done almost anywhere and can be done by yourself or with others. If you are a regular walker that’s great news, but I want to challenge you to amp up your walk and give that extra oomph to your routine. You’ll burn more calories, become stronger and have fun. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking in the right direction:
- Try Nordic Walking. Think cross-country skiing without the snow and without the skis! It involves poles specially made for this type of walking (they aren’t regular ski poles). You use the poles to pump your arms and propel yourself forward. Nordic walking has increased in popularity the past few years, and it really is a great way to increase your calorie burn and get a total body workout while walking. Not only will you get cardio and a lower body workout, but your arms, back and core will be working hard as well! The idea is to use the poles no matter where you are walking…the park, the sidewalk, a track, but the poles can serve double duty if you regularly walk on hiking paths. They’ll help you keep your balance all while helping you burn off more.
- Interval Walking. The premise is simple, instead of your same old stroll, you alternate between a normal fitness walking pace and a fast, power walk. The ratio I often use is a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, meaning walk normally for one minute and then do a power walk (push yourself faster than you normally would walk) for one or two minutes. I like to use a stopwatch to time the intervals but another simple way to do interval training is to use landmarks. Find a stop sign or a building and power walk to it and then find another landmark to recover to at a normal pace. Don’t get too caught up in the ratio…figure out what works for you. You’ll increase your heart rate by increasing your pace and as a result will get a calorie-burn lift. Interval training also helps to increase your endurance, not to mention beat any boredom from the “same old walk.”
- Add strength training to your walk. Break up your walk with sets of lunges or squats. These are a great add-on because you can do them anywhere and you don’t need to carry any equipment with you to combine your walk with strength training. Lunges and squats are often forgotten, but are truly one of the greatest way to tone those legs and buns. Do “walking lunges”: step forward into a lunge, making sure that your knee doesn’t extend past your toes and continue to alternate lunges on each side one after the other. Do 20 of these (10 on each side) every 10 minutes of your walk. Believe me you will feel it the next day! Your quads, hamstrings and gluts will thank you later! You can also stop every 10 minutes and do a set of squats.