If you’re stuck at home, one of the simplest and highly underrated forms of exercise is to head outside for a walk. I know it sounds pretty obvious right. That said walking is often overlooked or dismissed as a credible form of exercise for more complex and expensive options.
Walking is free, requires no equipment (aside from workout shoes) and can be done indoors or outside. You can go for a walk alone, with your kids, take the dog or walk while on a conference call – during the day or at night. It’s an easily accessible form of exercise that can be done mostly anywhere, anytime, for as little or long as you’d like.
In terms of positive impacts on health, it is a suggestion* for adults to get 150 minutes per week of moderately intense physical activity, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, preferably spread throughout the week. A daily moderate walk of just 22 minutes gets you to that 150-minutes-a-week target. If you’re a more vigorous walker or exerciser, a mere 11 minutes a day gets you to 75 minutes of beneficial activity each week.
This is a recommendation for overall health, but a recent study led by American Cancer Society researchers found that any level of walking was correlated with lower mortality risk and longer lives. Participants who walked even just one to two times the recommended amount saw mortality rates lowered by 20%.
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver”
If you’re looking for extra motivation to get outdoors and walk or even walk around your house, you can easily turn your walk into a workout.
Adding some intervals, core work and strength training will maximise the impact of your daily activity. Incorporating intervals into your walks can help improve cardiovascular endurance, burn more calories and keep your exercise routine fun and interesting.
Building muscle through strength training helps speed up the metabolism, improve balance and improve lean muscle mass. Stabilizing the core can help reduce back pain and improve posture.
Are you ready to take your walk to the next level?
Walking intervals: speed up and slow down
Instead of walking at a steady pace, try adding in some speed walking to get your heart pumping. Walk for one block at a regular pace, and then speed walk for the next block. Keep alternating for your entire walk. You could also do this with stairs, walk one set up and down and the go a little faster for the next set, aim to go for one minute at the higher intensity. Doing short bursts will will yield positive results, as increasing the tempo and see improvement in aerobic capacity.
If we translate this to walking, adding in intervals and speed walking alternated with moderately paced walking has more impact than maintaining one pace for the entire walk. That said, a walk is better than not walking at all.
Want More Benefits whilst Walking?
- Let’s get some engagement of your Core
As you walk, be precise about each step. Strike with your heel then toe, squeeze your glutes as you step and pull your naval in toward your spine. Engage this position whether you’re walking at a moderate pace or speed walking.
Really think about pressing down through each heel and engaging the hamstring and glute of that leg each time you strike the ground. While you’re breathing, think about exhaling to pull the naval in toward the spine as if you’re zipping a tight pair of pants and trying to squeeze into them.
- Now how about some Lower-body strength training
Working out the legs and glutes during your walk will create more of a HIIT : high-intensity interval training. You’ll be alternating between cardio (walking) and strength training (leg exercises), which is similar to doing a circuit class at the gym. With many ways to integrate lower-body strength training into your walk, here are a few suggestions:
After you walk for one block, stop and do 10 squats.
Walk another block, and do 10 more squats. Do this at least three times throughout your walk.
Walk for a block, then do walking lunges for another block.
Note: if lunges are a no go zone for any knee injuries (try lifting your knees up to your waistline). Repeat this for ten “high knees” on each leg. Make the movement controlled so you engage the glutes and brace your core to support your stability.
Be aware of your form:
Step forward with your right foot and bend the right knee over the right ankle.
Lower the left knee down toward the ground, and keep your back upright.
Press down through the right heel to stand up, then step your left foot forward.
Repeat this for a block, or start with just 10. Do this three times throughout your walk.
If you’re walking inside, time yourself for five minutes. After walking for five minutes, do three sets of 10 repetitions of either squats or lunges.
For modifications, only go down halfway into a squat or halfway into a lunge. You can also stay stationary with the lunges instead of walking lunges.
If you need support getting inspired and motivated to implement change to your health, your general well-being or a have particular health challenge.
Please reach out for a free 30 minute Discovery Call.
*The American Cancer Society Research