How to get a good workout out of walking
Your New Years exercise may look a little different, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of your surroundings to reap the benefits. Walking for exercise has became a popular activity last year, taken on by fitness and non-fitness enthusiasts alike. Often seen as a lesser form of exercise compared to running thanks to its slower pace, walking can actually hold its own as an effective form of exercise.
The health benefits of walking are numerous, including an improved heart health, strengthened bones, reduced risk of conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as reducing the chances of a stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. Not only this, but when performed with slight intensity, it can also stimulate fat-burning.
While we know the physiological benefits walking can bring, one aspect that's often overlooked is the positive mental health benefits it provides. Even a short burst of a 10 minutes brisk walk increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. Not to mention the reduced daily stress and anxiety, with better sleep overall.
Up the muscles: You can increase the intensity of your walk by engaging more muscle mass, such as swinging your arms during a power walk or walking upstairs to target different lower body areas. Using more muscles increases the body's demands for oxygen delivery to those working muscles to allow muscular contraction, meaning your heart must meet this by increasing the rate at which it contracts.
Up the distance: A long walk can mean different distances for different people. A good rule to follow is the 10 percent rule, meaning only add 10 percent distance each time you do a long walk (once a week is enough for long walks). If you’re already used to walking, challenge yourself even further.
Use stairs/hills: An uphill walk can considerably increase the difficulty of any walk, making this more demanding and engaging a whole load of new muscles, which as we know, will up your heart rate very quickly.
Up the tempo: Tempo walks are when you walk fast for a while and then walk slowly for a while. To start, make your slow walk twice as long as your fast walk, breaking it up with one minute fast, two minutes slow for example, and repeat this 10 times to complete the circuit.
Challenge yourself: As we like to say, better never stops, and becoming better each time means upping the challenge when you’re ready to. A great way of increasing the intensity of your walk is to take on more challenging terrains, such as hills up and down, sand, mud, steps, and even snow.
Remember to start easy and increase one step at a time, throwing yourself into your longest time/difficulty/intensity first try will only burn you out and delay the next time you can try again.