Walking is a great way to exercise. It can help you lose weight, it’s easier on your joints than running, it boosts mental health, and it can help prevent heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers!
Plus, walking is something most people can do. You don’t need special equipment and you can do it pretty much anywhere.
That said, not all walking is the same. Sometimes you need to pick up the pace to get your heart rate up before you’ll see any benefits.
So here are 13 ways to get the most out of your exercise walks:
- Dress the part
Though you can walk in pretty much anything, it helps to wear athletic gear. It’ll help you feel more comfortable and put you in an exercise mindset.
Athletic gear starts with the right shoes. They should be a good fit and have good arch support. Don’t skimp on quality. You don’t want to get any blisters from walking.
Athletic gear can also include activewear, such as light, breathable shorts, shirts, and sports bras for women.
- Walk with a buddy
Walking with a partner helps you stay motivated. When you’re tempted to take a break, they can push you to keep going.
Plus, it’s more fun to go with a walking buddy because it gives you someone to talk to.
- Warm up
Don’t start your walk too briskly. You need to get your blood flowing first. So start out at a slow pace and then gradually increase it.
- Increase the elevation
Increasing the elevation is a great way to intensify your walk and burn more calories. So change your route to include some hills or even stairs. If you’re walking on a treadmill, simply adjust the incline settings.
- Switch up your route
Sometimes it’s nice to switch up your route to experience something new. Change the terrain to get some new scenery.
You might take some trails through nature. The uneven surfaces could help improve balance and burn more calories.
Or you could explore a new city. But be careful walking around car traffic. Check both directions before crossing the street, and if you’re ever involved in a car accident, consult an experienced auto accident lawyer.
- Time yourself
Time yourself with a watch or phone. Then try to beat your last time or your personal record.
- Track your steps
Tracking your steps with a Fitbit or phone app is another great way to keep track of your performance and see yourself improve.
- Drink water
You need water to stay hydrated. So take a bottle of water with you on your walks. It’ll quench your thirst and add some extra weight to your workout. Fitness drinks work, too.
- Use good form
Make sure you have good posture while walking by standing up straight with your head held high. Swing your arms naturally as you go. Good form will help reduce the chance of injury.
- Pick up the pace
Increase your walking speed in intervals, creating easier and harder periods. This will improve your overall fitness and endurance.
Faster walking is also sometimes called “power walking.” It’s not quite running but it’s faster than leisure walking.
- Add some weights
If you carry weights while walking, you’ll engage your muscles more (calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core).
You can do this with ankle weights, wrist weights, light dumbells—anything you’re comfortable carrying. You can even just wear a backpack full of stuff.
- Walk to music or podcasts
Sometimes it’s nice to walk to music or listen to a podcast. This can boost your mood and take your mind off the walk. In fact, it can even make the workout feel easier.
Try creating a workout playlist to listen to on your phone. Match the song speeds to your walking pace. For example, Spotify has many different playlists organized by the beats per minute (BPM) that you can choose from.
Having a workout playlist will also give you something to look forward to on your walks so you don’t dread them.
- End with a stretch
Your walk isn’t complete without a final stretch. Stretching helps prevent soreness and injury.
Try bending down to touch your toes with your hands, stretch your arms overhead and upward, or lean from side to side.
Ultimately, getting the most out of your walks is all about being intentional. Start small and then challenge yourself to walk faster and longer.