Walking has become a common pastime for many people in the last couple of years. With everything in a state of flux recently, for many of us, walking became a great method of escaping the hustle and bustle in the world. For those that aren’t convinced that walking can be a great tool in the maintenance of your health and well being, this post is for you. Today we’ll cover the benefits of incorporating walking into your daily routine and we’ll also cover ways to spruce things up and turn walking into a workout.
Benefits of Walking
It’s impossible to cover all the benefits that you gain when you incorporate walking into your daily habits, however here are some of the important ones that we would like you to be aware of:
- You can walk almost anywhere, at any time and you get to choose how long you do it.
- You can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and increase your bone density and muscular strength by regularly walking.
- For those who suffer with hips/knee pain, it is a great alternative to running because the impact on your joints is significantly lowered, as well as your risk of injury.
- You can also enhance your energy levels by going for a walk, which increases your body’s supply of oxygen.
- Most importantly, we can’t neglect the mental health benefits of walking. Researchers from California State University found that people who walk on a daily basis tend to have more focus, and generally feel happier.
Turning Your Walk into a Workout
Do you feel like walking just doesn’t cut it when it comes to getting the exercise that you need? Or maybe you are looking for ways to increase the calories you burn? Here are some tips that can help.
1. Skip The Flat Surfaces
One way to push yourself more is by walking on inclined surfaces. Incline walking challenges the body by involving calves, legs, and glutes, which aren’t engaged as much when walking on flatter surfaces. This can be something simple as including stairs during your walk or finding some steeper hills around the neighborhood.
Walking downhill can also do wonders, because it works your core and lower leg calf muscles similarly to walking uphill.
2. Interval training
Combining brief bursts of intensive activity can help you lose weight, gain muscle, and improve your cardiovascular health. Not sure how to do that while walking? Start by alternating between speed walking and slow walking, by using stop signs, telephone poles, or park seats as markers/reminders to alternate your speed. Once you are used to that, add body weight exercises to your walk. Examples include squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups and even a few burpees! You could walk for 5 minutes, then do 10 pushups, then walk for another 5 minutes then do 20 sit-ups, etc.
Alternating your speed and adding some exercises to the mix, will make your muscles work harder, and burn more calories. Not only that, research has proven that interval training boosts muscle strength and improves blood pressure. Just remember to start slowly and not push yourself too hard at the beginning.
3. Work your arms
Activating your upper body can help you get the most out of the walking workout. Walking has a more substantial impact when you use more muscles. It is possible to walk faster and stay in the fat-burning zone for a more extended period by engaging your arms more during your walk. How can you do this? One popular method is to use wrist/hand weights when you are walking. Weights meant for walking typically range between 0.5lbs to 5-lbs. Just slap on a pair and swing the arms more vigorously when you are walking. You will definitely notice a difference. Again, just remember to start slowly if you’ve never done it before.
4. Fill-up a backpack
Increasing your heart rate is an excellent way to burn fat. How can you increase your heart rate during a walk? One way is to add weight and resistance to your walk. One often overlooked way of doing this is to fill up a backpack with additional weight and carry it on your shoulders during your walk. Just make sure you grab a comfortable backpack to wear and slowly increase the weight you add to it. The last thing you want is to injure yourself.
5. Virtual Racing
Sometimes, just walking isn’t enough to keep you motivated. You have to challenge yourself to get to the next level. How can you challenge yourself while walking? Two words, Virtual Racing. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, virtual racing has become really popular. The general idea is that you sign up for a “race” where you set your own goals (e.g.: 10 miles, 20 miles, 100 miles, etc.) and you have to complete the distance in the timeframe that you set, which could be days, weeks or months.
Our all-time favorite virtual racing site is The Conqueror Virtual Challenge. You sign up for a virtual challenge and then you can do any form of physical activity (run, walk, swim, hike, etc.) to complete the distance that you picked. Why is this one of our favorites? They have an amazing Facebook Group with other members that can motivate you to keep going, you can also track your progress using live Google Maps and you also get some bling (medal) when you complete your challenge.
Once you get going, you’ll start challenging yourself in no time. Your walks will become faster, they will go on longer and you’ll start to feel better about yourself.
To wrap it up
Walking is often undervalued as a health and fitness tool. Stimulating the heart and circulation, strengthening muscles and joints, and lifting one’s spirits are just a few of the many health advantages of walking. The key is to constantly challenge yourself. If you do that, you will reap the rewards. If you have other tips that our readers can use to step-up their walks, we’d love to hear from you! Just use the comment box below.