Walking is a better workout than most people think — just 30 minutes a day can help you lose weight, feel happier and live longer. The low-impact cardio is perfect for beginners and more advanced athletes and can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many people tend to let regular exercise fall by the wayside during busy times like the holidays, but the 10 tips below will help you reap the benefits of walking year-round.
HAVE A STEP GOAL
Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, setting a goal is important to keep you motivated. Plus, increasing steps is a safe and easy way to burn more calories. A great place to start is aiming for 10,000 steps per day, which has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve glucose tolerance and help with weight loss.
FOLLOW A PLAN
Sticking to a plan can hold you accountable and prevent boredom by varying your daily workouts. There are many ways to personalize a plan to suit your specific goals. For example, if you’re looking to target belly fat, try this 6-week belly fat blasting plan. Or, if you want to burn approximately 300 calories per day through exercise, check out this 4-week power walking plan.
INCREASE THE PACE
The latest research shows a brisk walk is most effective at burning calories. That translates to a cadence of roughly 100 steps a minute. The next time you’re on a walk, count how many steps you take in 15 seconds. Multiply that number by 4 to get your step count per minute.
CHANGE THE TERRAIN
If your walking routine is getting stagnant, it’s time to mix things up. Look for hills or stairs to climb, explore new trails and find different footing like sand or dirt. These small changes increase your heart rate, and the instability (on terrain like sand) makes your muscles work harder and yields a larger calorie burn.
PLAY WITH INCLINE ON THE TREADMILL
Whether you prefer to stay indoors because of inclement weather or are just looking for a challenging workout, the treadmill is an extremely versatile weight-loss tool. To burn more calories on the treadmill, it’s important to change the incline. Let 1.0 be your default and crank it up between 2.0–5.0 following a good warmup. This allows you to maintain proper posture during a tough workout.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to burn more calories in a short amount of time and build mental toughness. One study found the best way to get started with HIIT is by walking. Try this beginner-friendly one-week plan.
INCORPORATE STRENGTH MOVES
If you’re looking to lose more weight walking, adding strength moves to your routine is one option. Include bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges or pushups on a park bench, which can help build lean muscle and burn more calories.
Walking poles can help improve posture, balance and mobility. They also help you engage your arms more, which increases energy expenditure and calorie burn. Plus, if you’re on challenging terrain, walking poles can help take stress off your joints and prevent you from fatiguing faster.
To yield even more benefits from walking, you can add resistance by wearing a weighted vest or hand weights. Extra resistance means muscles need to work harder, so added weight can help increase strength and translate to quicker speed on the days you train without those added pounds.
RECRUIT FRIENDS AND FAMILY
You can squeeze more steps in during the holidays — and in general — if you have support. Creating a new family tradition such as going for a walk after dessert can help you rack up the steps. Or join a walking group in your area, which can help you make new friends, explore new routes and feel safer walking outside when it’s dark.
See how many days this month you can hit 10,000 steps. Set a target goal and reward yourself with a new pair of shoes or a workout outfit when you succeed.