by Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM MS
Walking isn’t just a means to get from point A to point B, it is also one of the most popular ways to lose weight and stay fit. This low impact exercise is accessible to most people, is low cost and requires no special equipment. Despite this, there is a potential downside of walking for fitness, and that is ensuring that the level of intensity is high enough to improve one’s health.
This article will go over four ways to up the intensity to boost the benefits of any walking program.
A great way to increase the challenge and caloric expenditure of any workout is to add resistance. Integrating wrist weights or walking weights is a safe and effective way to force the body to work harder when you walk.
In any cardiovascular program, intervals or alternating between slow and fast, is a sure way to give you the burn you are looking for. An example of walking intervals may be speed walking for 1 minute followed by a 1 minute recovery pace. This can be increased incrementally to 2 minutes speed walking followed by 2 minutes of a recovery pace, then 3 minutes, 4 minutes and so forth. The exact design of the intervals can be one that works for you and keeps you not only challenged but also engaged.
Want to bump it up even more? Try alternating between walking and jogging. Start with the same design as above. 1 minute of jogging, followed by 1 minute of walking.
Walking on a flat surface does not burn as many calories as we think or wish it did, however as soon as you start to walk uphill this is where the work begins. To increase the challenge of a walking workout, bring as much incline to the surface as possible.
Whether you walk outside on a hill or inside on a treadmill, increase the incline to one that forces you to stay focused and that it is a struggle to hold a conversation.
Next to walking on an incline, climbing stairs is one of the most effective ways to increase caloric expenditure when walking. Depending on fitness level, stairs can be slowly introduced into a walking program or even built into a walking interval program.
Walking stairs does place extra stress to the knee therefore if any pain is experienced in the knees when climbing stairs, you may want to consider one of the other options for boosting walking intensity.
Regardless of the technique you decide to use to boost your walking burn, don’t forget to integrate the recovery component. Check out our recent blog on how to keep your feet healthy during a walking program.