You’ve got your walking routine down. You’re taking walking meetings, you enjoy long walks at lunch, you’re hitting your step goal each day — and you’re seeing physical and mental benefits. But it’s getting a bit … old. Maybe you’re hitting a plateau. It’s time to challenge yourself!
Here are six ways to accelerate your walking workout.
ADD SMALL WEIGHTS
If you don’t already own a pair, pick up a set of 3–5 pound weights. Carrying weights while you walk is a great extra challenge, but if you want to go even further, try pumping your arms with them. The extra weight and movement helps tone your arms and you’ll burn even more calories.
PUMP YOUR ARMS
Even if you don’t have weights, the simple act of moving your arms more while you walk increases the exertion. But don’t overdo it — controlled swinging of your arms is better than erratic movement. Keep your elbows in by your sides and don’t go past the middle of your chest.
Up the speed of your walking in short bursts for an extra challenge. Choose predetermined distances ahead of time and make those your sprints. For example, if you walk around your neighborhood, try “sprinting” every fourth block. You could even make a game of it — every time you see someone wearing blue, speed up for 20 seconds.
SEEK HILLS OR OTHER CHALLENGES
Seek out tougher terrain if you can find it. Look for hills you can walk up, stairs you can climb or even some different footing like sand to walk on. You can even do this on a treadmill by increasing your incline — just try to maintain the same speed as when you were walking on flat ground. These little differences increase your heart rate and the instability makes you work harder.
WATCH YOUR HEART RATE
Use your heart rate as a guide for your intensity level while you’re exercising with a simple formula. First, subtract your age from 220. Then, calculate 85% of that value for the top level and 65 percent for the bottom. For maximum efficiency, you’ll want to try and stay within that range during your walk. If you don’t own a heart rate monitor, choose a traditional one that wraps around your chest or opt for one of the many fitness watches out there.
ADD OTHER EXERCISES
Try beginning or ending a walk with other exercises to add in additional strength training. Start with a few reps of squats or lunges — you could even lunge while you walk. You’ll be surprised how much toning you can achieve from this added routine.