Walking is a great way to improve cardio fitness and help with weight loss, but both beginners and more advanced walkers eventually hit plateaus. Instead of giving up when your workouts don’t equate to the gains you’d like to see, try these four tips to help revitalize your routine:
1. VARY YOUR WORKOUT
Avoiding the same workout is essential to pushing through a plateau. Here are three tips for changing things up:
- Up the intensity.
If you’re always walking at the same speed, your body adapts to the effort and it won’t be as difficult as when you first started. A few times per week, increase the intensity by including short intervals or playing with the incline on the treadmill.
- Increase the distance.
Like intensity, you’ll need to vary your distance to keep your workouts challenging. Make it a point to go longer on one or two walks per week on the days you aren’t doing short, high-intensity efforts..
- Pick a new route.
While a dedicated route around your neighborhood might be convenient, it’s important to change your route and terrain to see progress. Go for a hike, try a path through the woods or even walk on the sand if you live near a beach.
2. INCREASE YOUR STEP COUNT
Sticking to the same three-day per week routine could work for the first few months, but eventually you’ll need to walk more if you want to reach your goals and avoid a plateau. Try working toward five days of walking per week and finding ways to increase the frequency during the day. That could mean going for a brief 10-minute walk around the house or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office. If you need more inspiration, here are 50 ways to walk more.
3. INCORPORATE CROSS-TRAINING
Getting stronger by mixing in a variety of activities can help you continue to improve. A strength-training program, swimming and cycling are all great activities that can help you build muscle and improve your endurance.
Including a few short running sprints in your walking workouts can also be a good way to challenge your body to adapt to higher intensity. Start by adding a few 20–30 second efforts once or twice a week and build from there. Just be sure to listen to your body, take days off when needed and progress slowly to avoid injury.
4. BE PATIENT
Sometimes progress doesn’t happen as quickly as you might’ve hoped. Rather than getting discouraged, remember sticking to it and being persistent enough to push through plateaus eventually yields results.
Keep in mind, too, if you’re judging your progress on weight loss, the number on the scale might not provide an accurate measurement of the work you’ve put in. This is because muscle weighs more than fat. Instead, measuring your waist, hips and other parts of your body might be a more accurate way to determine if you’re progressing.