Walking is the most popular form of exercise in America, with over 145 million adults including it in their efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.
Going for a walk is easy, accessible, and doesn’t require any special equipment. People of all fitness levels can start walking as a way to lose weight and develop cardiovascular endurance.
If you’re ready to lace up your shoes and go but don’t quite know where to start, you’re in the right place. Read on for five walking workouts that can help you burn fat, boost your energy, and improve your fitness.
1. Beginner Brainpower Boost
The best part about walking is that you don’t have to be a fitness expert or follow a fancy plan to get started. If you’re new to exercise or coming back after an illness or injury, start off slow with a 20-minute daily brainpower boost.
Take a break during your day at a time you normally start to lose energy. If you’re employed, your lunch break is the perfect time for this. Then, go for a brisk 15 to 20-minute walk that’s fast enough to raise your heart rate, but slow enough that you don’t get exhausted.
When you get back, you’ll feel more awake and alert and ready to take on the day. That’s because walking improves your cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain and releasing endorphins.
2. Pedometer Pacing
You don’t have to go on pre-planned walks to reap the benefits of being more active. Set a goal for the number of steps you’d like to take each day and use a pedometer to track your progress. Being able to visualize your activity levels can help you make healthier choices throughout the day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Most resources you find will recommend getting 10,000 steps per day, but that’s a lot to start out with. More recent research from Harvard medical school has shown that you can see health benefits in as few as 4,400 steps per day. The biggest thing is that you start to walk more than you did before.
You have many options when it comes to pedometers—some are only a couple dollars and clip onto a waistband. If you’d like to monitor other aspects of your health along with it, consider getting a fitness tracker like a Fitbit. And if the original style doesn’t go with your work wardrobe, you can always match a new strap with your Fitbit Alta from Mobile Mob.
At least once a week, try to take your walking outside and into the woods. Hiking outdoors has a multitude of health benefits. These range from boosting your mood to lowering your blood pressure.
Find a trail near you to get started, and take a look at the difficulty rating before you set out. Flatter ground will make for a more relaxing, beginner-friendly hike. A trail that goes through hilly territory or rough ground will make for a better leg and glute workout, but may not be accessible to everyone.
If balancing on uneven ground is an issue for you, invest in a set of hiking poles. Not only do they make it safer to traverse the trails, but they also give you an arm workout at the same time. Just keep safety in mind and make sure to take a buddy with you or let people know where you’re going in advance.
4. Stair Step-Ups
There’s nothing like a staircase to get your muscles activated, your heart pounding, and your lungs working hard! Walking on the stairs engages the muscles in your butt, legs, and core to give you a better workout in less time than you could get on flat ground.
If you’re a beginner, take it slow—it’s easy to overdo it on stair workouts. Start by adding stairs into your regular walking routine. If you walk for 20 minutes per day, begin by adding 5 minutes of going up and down steps and increase the amount of time as your fitness improves.
If you’re looking for a challenge, head somewhere with a multi-flight staircase. This could be a set of bleachers, your office, or your apartment building.
Start your warm-up by going up and down the steps at a moderate pace for 5 minutes to get the blood flowing. Then, alternate jogging up the stairs and walking back down them for 10-15 minutes. If you’re looking for a full-body workout, you can use the steps to do lunges, tricep dips, or mountain climbers.
Finish off your workout with a 5-minute cooldown walk on flat ground.
5. Long Distance Legs
Most people don’t have time for an hour-long walk every day, but they’re definitely worth taking when you have the chance. Long-distance treks build muscular and cardiovascular endurance better than short, fast walks. However, the biggest downside to long walks is that they can get boring if you’re doing loops on a track or using a treadmill.
With a little extra planning, you can design some custom, hour-long walking routes around your neighborhood.
To get started, record how long it takes you to walk a mile. Divide 60 by that number to find how many miles you walk per hour. Then, use an online map program to create a loop that’s the perfect distance for you to finish in 60 minutes.
Give These Fabulous Walking Workouts a Try
You don’t need any fancy equipment or fitness expertise to reap the benefits of these walking workouts. All you need is a pair of sneakers and a place to go, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle in no time.
Looking for more ways to stay healthy? Check back with us regularly for more helpful content like this!