13 Super Easy Ways To Make Walking Your Best Exercise
You might think of walking as a simple everyday task, but there's actually a lot of ways you can turn walking into a great form of exercise. Take these simple tips and apply them to your workout to get the most out of your steps!
Walk on different terrains.
If you switch up the type of ground your feet are walking on, your muscles will instinctively react. For example, walking on a sandy beach is different than walking on a hard paved sidewalk. Switching it up will ensure that your leg muscles and joints are getting the wide range of activity they need. And if you ever need a breather from natural terrain, the rubber surface of treadmills is always a great alternative.
Walk before breakfast.
A recent study performed by the American Physiological Society found that a pre-breakfast walk burns close to 50 percent more fat than an exercise post-breakfast. This is because you're forcing your body to burn through its fat storage instead of the recently consumed sugars from breakfast that are easier to burn. However, people with certain medical conditions should definitely eat something before you do any physical activity. Something like a banana or yogurt with granola is a great option.
Try to gradually pick up the pace.
Walking is a competitive exercise just like running is. While a runner needs to target new paces in order to achieve a certain time, so does a walker. Gradually targeting new walking speeds will allow you to effectively burn more calories. You want to make sure your body isn't getting too accustomed to the pace you're setting. If you can feel that happening, try to pick it up a bit.
Find a walking buddy.
This goes for any form of exercise, but for many people, having a buddy to walk with you is a great form of motivation. Whether it's over a lunch break or before you go to work each day, try to make it a standard activity on both of your schedules. Having someone to hold you accountable for exercising is a great idea — you might even find yourself looking forward to hitting the pavement!
Pay attention to your breathing.
It's always a good idea to pause every once in a while during exercise and pay close attention to the cadence of your breathing pattern. If you're not breathing hard enough, pick up the pace! If you're breathing really hard but still feel good, you're probably pushing yourself to the right limit. It's important to be aware of how your body is reacting to new stages of physical activity, so be sure to take what your body is telling you into account!
Update your tunes.
Keeping an updated and continually evolving workout playlist can be a great motivator for getting off the couch and into your exercise clothes. It's another way to make your walking routine something to look forward to. This will be different for every person, too — perhaps you'd rather have your favorite podcast or audiobook serve as your motivation. Whatever it is, find something that keeps you intrigued and moving.
Move those arms!
Fast swinging of your arms might make you feel silly while walking, but it's actually quite beneficial. It will add a lot of momentum to your walking stride, which will lead to a greater overall speed that doesn't feel forced. There's a reason you see power walkers moving their arms like crazy: it really does offer a substantial health benefit!
Take care of your toes by wearing running shoes.
Toe slaps and foot dropping are often a result of not wearing running shoes while performing more intensive walking regimes. So while you might think you don't need a quality pair of running shoes if you're just going to be walking in them, it's actually a good idea to invest in a pair. Your feet are two of the most crucial parts of the body when it comes to ANY exercise, so it's vital to keep them in good condition with quality gear.
Watch your stride.
It's important to not over-extended your strides when walking. An overreaching stride actually slows you down in the long run and doesn't burn as many calories (contrary to popular belief). So ease up a bit and bridge the gap between your steps if you find yourself over-striding.
ALWAYS warm up.
It's imperative that you start off at a slow or normal walking pace for five-ten minutes before you pick up steam and enter the main tempo of your workout. Your muscles aren't meant to immediately engage in the intensive part of your workout, so be sure to get them moving a bit and warm them up first.
Track your progress.
Tools like pedometers and Fitbits are excellent ways to actually track the progress of your exercises. Whether it's distance walked or number of steps taken, using actual data to find out what you need to work on physically is a great idea. It's also very motivating to see how much you improve over time.
Check your posture.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons defines good walking posture as the following: arms swinging, head high, back straight and abdomen flat. Your toes should be pointing straight ahead, too. Good posture is the first step to a successful walking workout.
Try walking poles.
Using walking poles when walking on natural and rocky terrain can give you a big boost in calorie burning. Research suggests they can improve the number of calories burned by up to 40 percent while also reducing impact on your joints. You also look very serious about fitness, which is always a good way to impress your friends!