How to Supercharge Your Walk

Walking is an ideal low-impact exercise—it’s easy to do, doesn’t cost a thing and offers lots of health benefits. Analysis of the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study revealed that people who expended the same amount of calories, whether walking, running, or performing another activity, reaped the same benefits: a decreased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, and improved cardiovascular health.

You can walk through your neighborhood, the park, trails, and even the mall or on a treadmill when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Research conducted by James O. Hill, Ph.D., found that walking just 2,000 additional steps a day is enough to prevent most people from gaining weight. But if you want to kick things up a bit, you may want to consider a variety of ways to make it even more effective by “supercharging” your walk.

Incorporating Hills or a Steeper Incline

Wherever you walk, try to incorporate some hill climbing. If you use a treadmill, begin with a five percent gradient and then gradually work up to about eight percent. Outdoors, climb anything you can, like stairs, or a steep hill to burn as much as 50 percent more calories than you would on level ground.

Rhythm and speed

On a treadmill, do high-intensity speed intervals combined with hill climbing for a powerful workout. While walking outdoors, your goal should be to combine steady, brisk walking with short bursts of increased intensity followed by moderately paced walking for several minutes.

You should be breaking a sweat while breathing manageably. If you are focusing on stress management, rather than weight loss, maintain a more comfortable, rhythmic pace that allows you to focus on the breath.

Hit the trails

Walking on a variety of different trails helps to make it more interesting, which means you’ll not only feel more motivated but you’ll be more likely to walk longer.

Walk with a fitness buddy

A fitness buddy might be your spouse, a co-worker, best friend, neighbor or even a canine companion. Studies have found that those who walk with a buddy are more likely to stick with their routine and also lose more weight than those who work out alone.

Pump your arms or use walking poles

Pumping your arms by bending elbows at about a 90-degree angle while swinging from the shoulders like a pendulum helps to burn more calories; just be sure to keep the movement short in order to move them quickly and maximize calorie burn. Another option is to consider “Nordic walking,” which involves walking poles similar to ski poles. Moving them in a forward and backward motion helps to burn up to 45 percent more calories.

trail walkingWhile 30 to 60 minutes per day is recommended, remember you can break that total up into a number of different sessions if you need to. For those who are overweight or haven’t exercised for a while, consider starting out with a 10-minute walk and gradually work your way up to several sessions throughout the day.

-The Alternative Daily


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