Walking is an excellent form of exercise. But if you are getting bored with your regular walks or you stopped seeing results with your walking program, it may be time to mix things up. Check out these four simple strategies designed to help you amp up your walking power and maximize your results:
CHOOSE THE RIGHT MUSIC
Studies show the right tempo of music can help set your pace and may help you push harder for longer. Synchronizing your movements with the beat of the music can not only help you maintain a strong, rhythmic pace, it may also help you enjoy your workout more by making it feel less strenuous.
The American Council on Exercise recommends a bpm [beats per minute] of between 137–139 for power walking and between 147–169 for running. Try creating playlists with your favorite songs and then download an app called Tempo Magic ($5.99, available on iTunes) which helps you change the BPMs of the songs to your preference.
TRY HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVALS
Adding HIIT intervals to your walk allows you to go further in a shorter amount of time, meaning you’ll burn more calories. To get started, add HIIT to one of your walks each week. Here’s how: After you’ve warmed up, walk as fast as you can for 2 minutes, then walk for 3 minutes at a comfortable pace. Repeat up to 3 times. If you’d like even more direction, try this HIIT for Beginners: Walking Intervals workout.
USE A WEIGHTED VEST OR WALKING POLES
Adding extra weight can help boost your calorie burn, but it’s important to increase it in the right way. Instead of holding dumbbells or using ankle or wrist weights that can strain your joints, consider a weighted vest or walking poles to safely increase calorie expenditure with a lower risk of injury. (There are lots of vests to choose from in stores and online, but a basic model that adjusts from about 4–8 pounds generally retails between $25–40.) You can adjust how much weight is in that vest so start lightly and progress slowly. As you walk, focus on using good posture and engaging your core for maximum benefit.
ADD STRENGTH-TRAINING MOVES
If you don’t have time to do a separate resistance-training workout, combine it with cardio. You’ll want to avoid swinging dumbbells as you walk, but adding in strength-training intervals (using only your bodyweight) to your walk can be an effective and safe way to bring both together. For example, try doing one strength exercise after every 5 minutes of walking using moves like squats, lunges and pushups.
If you’re walking near a park, do a lap and then stop at a bench for a minute of tricep dips, step ups, incline pushups, etc. Or, when walking on the sidewalk, squat and lunge while you wait for the crosswalk light to change. You can also check out these no-equipment needed moves for more ideas and pointers on form.