“Walking is too easy”, I hear you say? Well, I say go get some soap and wash that mouth out! Did you know that walking has been declared the most effective fat-burning activity in the world? That’s right! It’s better than HIIT, plyometrics and strength training. Why? Because it can be done by virtually everyone, anywhere, in any weather, and at any time of day for hours on end. With almost zero chance of injury – Winning! So here are 5 simple things you can do to make your walk a seriously effective workout.
Walking all day, every day is what our human bodies were made for. This physiological disposition came from our ancestors foraging through the forest or hunting with a spear. However, for many of you, walking won’t feel like enough to get you fitter, stronger, faster and leaner. These are some extra steps you can take to make the most of that walk:
Every time you see a park bench, or other equally sturdy knee-high structure here’s your chance to smash out 10 (or a number you feel is a challenge) dips, push ups, mountain climbers, step ups. Or if you’re really energetic, I’d recommend box jumps! You can start with 1 of these activities and then add more as your conditioning improves
If gaining strength and increasing muscle definition is your goal, then ‘Bench it’.
Every time you come to a hill, step it up a gear. This could be marching up with serious hands and high knees, or your best jogging, or your fastest sprint. For all those worried about impact on your knees, running up a hill doesn’t add much load to your knee joints. However, it adds major overload to your leg and butt muscles, and this is what we want!
Even if you are a good walker, becoming a good hill climber will take your fitness to a whole new level.
If improving your leg strength and losing weight is your goal, then ‘Sprint it’.
Just because you’re going for a walk & talk with your BFF doesn’t mean it can’t be a serious workout too. There’s a reason they call it a ‘POWER’ walk. A normal walking pace is usually around 5-6.5kph, while a power walk is up around 7.5-9kph. A ‘Race’ walker hits speeds of up to 13kph (that’s my current sprinting pace!)
In short – pump your arms, lengthen your stride and move your legs as fast as possible. This ‘Power’ pace will equate to burning up to 55% more energy (and calories) in the same amount of time.
If increasing your walking speed and losing weight is your goal, then ‘Own it’.
Do it Daily
Unlike HIIT, plyometrics or strength training, you can walk every day or even twice a day. This is without risking overtraining, stress fractures, shins splints or any of the other dozen or so injuries related to the more intense styles of exercise. Although the other styles do burn more energy in the same amount of time, walking is the slow burner and you can easily double your time to make it ‘worthwhile’.
If losing weight and preventing injury is your goal then ‘Do it Daily’.
Switch it Up
When you go for a run, you bank on the perfectly laid footpath or oval to be completely smooth in order to avoid rolling an ankle. When you’re moving at a slower pace i.e. walking, it becomes less dangerous to charge through rougher terrains such as trail walks and rocky hill climbs. These rougher terrains stimulate your nervous system (which is good for your brain) as well as a whole host of stability muscles, including your glute medius (side bum) and adductors (inner thighs). This last point is good for so many reasons. If we all walked on uneven terrain like the good ol’ caveman days, there would be less of a need for all the glute engaging, core activating, muscle stimulating routine you have to do before you even start your workout. You over-40’s know what I mean!
If improving your stability and balance are amongst your goals then ‘Switch it Up’.
So there you have it! 5 new ways to jazz up and intensify your next walk.
Your specific goals and timeline will determine which ones you start with. You can start with just one and then combine them as you get fitter, faster, stronger and leaner. Godspeed!