While some people think walking is too simple and doesn’t offer the same benefits of a more challenging workout, this activity can be a real fat burner if done properly. Plus there are many ways to step up your walking game, so you can get in shape even faster. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Keep your core tight. Anytime you can work on toning those core muscles, it’s a good thing. And when you flex your core while walking, you really make those muscles work. I must confess this exercise didn’t come naturally to me at first. But each time I thought about it, I would suck everything in and keep my midsection tight. Now I contract my core automatically whenever I walk along on my path.
Oh, while you’re at it, squeeze those glutes, too. You’ll wake up the next morning and wonder why you’re sore in different places, and then you’ll remember yesterday’s walk.
Go a little farther each week. Have you ever heard a health professional say that you walk too much? Nope, not even one. Walking is easy on the joints, and our ancestors (think way back) were walking fanatics—it’s how they got everywhere.
Start where you’re at, without any judgment. If you’re only able to walk a couple of blocks in the beginning, then take heart in the fact that you’re doing it, and be consistent. When you feel yourself getting stronger from your walking habit, increase your distance. Even adding one extra block a week is going to really add up in the long run.
Don’t have the extra time needed to go farther? Then either pick up your pace, and challenge yourself to add a block without adding minutes to your workout time, or add a shorter walk onto the other end of your day. For instance, if you’re a morning walker, take a short walk after dinner. Bonus: walking right after a meal helps with digestion too.
Take the route with hills and past playgrounds. If you have several route options, take the more interesting one. This applies to most anything in life, I think, but especially so with walking. The varying terrain of a hilly route works a variety of muscles, including your hamstrings and glutes, and your whole body needs to move and be challenged. It’s a good thing.
If you happen to pass a playground, use the monkey bars to do some pull-ups. Even if you can do only one the first time around, chances are good you’ll be able to double that soon. You can also use park benches to do some tricep dips, elevated push-ups, or step-ups.
Walk with someone who walks faster than you. My hubby started joining me on my daily walk, and it has really stepped things up for me. With his longer stride and quicker pace, I have to work that much harder to keep up. This gets my heart rate going faster, and we all know the benefits of cardiovascular activity. I never ask him to slow down. Instead, I see it as a way to challenge myself and get stronger with each step.
Hold informal auditions of the people in your life to become your new walking buddy. There’s no shame in finding the right person for the job. 🙂 If on your trial run they make you pick up the pace without being asked, that’s good. See if you can set up a regular walking routine with that person.
I’ve always loved walking as a way of staying in shape. One of my favorite places to indulge myself is around the farm I grew up on—nice rolling hills, the smell of fresh cut alfalfa, and some of the most fabulous sunsets I’ve seen anywhere. While I don’t get the chance to take a walk in that area very often these days, just thinking about it fills me up in so many ways. It’s a whole mind-body thing for me—as walking can be for you too.
Whether you’re walking for health or just to get where your going, you’re getting in shape. And with just a tweak or two, you can get in shape that much quicker. Do you have a unique way of stepping up your walking? Let me know!