Going for a daily stroll of any kind is a healthy habit, to be sure. But with just a little focus and an extra push, you can get more out of your walks.
Walking is great for your health. Recent studies have shown that walking for at least 30 minutes every day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by about 19 percent. The benefits and risk reduction also increase the more you walk.
Another study found a correlation between getting in your daily steps and improved immune function. After tracking 1,000 adults during flu season, those who walked for 30 to 45 minutes per day at a moderate pace had 43 percent fewer sick days. They also had fewer upper-respiratory-tract infections, overall, and milder symptoms even when they did get sick.
With that in mind, let’s look at how you can turn a casual stroll into a health-boosting workout!
Increase the Tempo
Casual walking might be a regular part of your daily routine, but if you really want to make those steps count, increase your tempo and keep the pace. Be sure to place your foot completely flat on the ground to maintain walking form. This will prevent you from turning your power walk into a half-jog.
When walking briskly, you should be able to have a normal conversation without losing your breath—practice with a friend. If you feel like you’re barely keeping up, lower your tempo, and stay there. The more you walk, the brisker the pace you’ll be able to maintain without getting winded.
Increase the Distance
Another easy way to turn walking into a workout is by increasing the overall distance. Just make your usual walk a little longer both ways. Start by adding a quarter of a mile to your regular route, and then gradually increase the distance over time. This gives your body a chance to adapt and grow stronger.
If you don’t have a good long route to follow, just do a couple of circuits on a shorter one—you’ll get the same results.
Choose a More Challenging Route
Do you walk the same route every day? Switch it up and choose a more challenging path with some inclines. This will put your muscles to work, slightly elevate your heart rate, and turn your walk into a moderate cardio exercise.
It’s amazing what simply adding a bit of elevation can do! So, do your cardiovascular health a favor, and introduce some climbing into your routine.
Another great way to add a challenge is to ditch the elevator and take the stairs whenever you can. Use these opportunities to get in a quick workout, and improve the tone and circulation of your leg and back muscles.
The simplest way to track your walks is time. So, break out that stopwatch and note how long it takes you to complete your usual route. Try to decrease the time each day until there’s no way you can do so without turning it into a run.
At that point, add more length (or laps) to your route. This will allow you to get in more steps per day in the same amount of time.
Some Tips for Healthy Walks
Turning walking into a workout is a great way to improve your general health without doing a gazillion burpees and squats. Still, it’s a workout, so try to do the following:
- Invest in a good pair of shoes: Walking impacts your ankles and tendons in a major way and injuries are more common than you might think. A good pair of shoes will increase your comfort and help you avoid hurting yourself. If you’re not sure what to look for, pop into a shoe store and ask for some advice. An associate can also measure your feet and tell you exactly what kind of support you need.
- Wear comfortable clothes: When your walking routine goes from leisurely stroll to challenging, vigorous strut, you aren’t going to enjoy doing it in jeans. Pick up a pair of comfy joggers or leggings so your muscles can expand and contract more freely.
- Stay hydrated: Of course, any type of physical activity should always be paired with a bottle of water. You lose a lot of liquids when you perspire, not to mention the increased blood flow and oxygen intake. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and remember to sip it frequently throughout your workout.
- Protect your skin: If you walk during the day, be sure to use a sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF to protect you from harmful UV rays.
There are so many benefits you can get just from walking. Don’t take it for granted! If you turn your daily stroll into a workout, you’ll be doing something amazing for your overall health and wellbeing.