Walking is the ideal workout for many people. Typically, people of all fitness levels can walk for fitness—and it doesn’t require any additional equipment other than some comfortable clothes and appropriate walking shoes. Likewise, you don’t have to go to the gym to walk. You can walk around the neighborhood, in malls or parks, or even around the office during your breaks and lunch hour.
All that said, here are a few tips to boost your walking workout as well as your calorie-burning potential.
Keep tabs on how many steps you take. If you don’t have a pedometer, then get one so that you can keep track of your step count daily. A study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise says that men and women walked 15 percent more each day when they work pedometers and recorded their daily steps than those who didn’t track their progress. The "magic" number of steps to aim for daily is 10,000.
Listen to fast-tempo music while you walk. A study in the Journal of Sports & Exercise Psychology found that people walked in time to fast-tempo music (approximately 120 beats per minute)—walking faster and walking 15 percent longer than those who walked in silence. Music improves mood, motivation, movement and attention when walking.
Get “inclined” with your walking workout. Walking hills or other inclines can help you burn even more calories. For example, a 150-pound woman who walks at the rate of 3.5 miles per hour on level ground burns 132 calories in 30 minutes, while that same woman walking on a five percent grade incline burns 171 calories per 30 minutes. An added bonus is that walking uphill can boost bone density, while toning and strengthening your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
Move your arms while walking. Vigorously pumping your arms while walking can not only boost your pace, but it can also provide a good workout for your upper body. Bend your arms at 90 degrees and pump them from the shoulder. Your arms should be moving opposite to your legs—swinging your right arm forward as you step forward with your left leg. You should also keep your hands unclenched, wrists straight and keep your elbows close to your sides.
Boost your walking workout—and walk off those calories and your stress!
In order to avoid risk of injury, please seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Also, be sure to stretch after exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.