Walking certainly has a lot going for it as a form of exercise.
You don’t need any special equipment. There’s no technique to learn. You can do it just about anywhere, at any time. There’s little risk of injury. You can socialise at the same time. And it can be a mode of transport.
That’s a lot of positives.
It’s also pretty easy to make habit. As evidenced by all the walkers you see in your neighbourhood taking the same route, at the same time, on a practically daily basis.
Walking's great BUT it's got limitations
There’s no denying if people simply walked more we’d have a healthier society. Few people achieve the recommended 10 000 steps a day. When you measure it, it’s staggering how little we can move, when not making a conscious effort to.
Anyway, while walking can be a simple solution to a significant modern problem, it does have limitations.
Firstly, it takes much longer to burn calories than more vigorous exercise such as jogging.
An 80kg person burns 420 calories in an hour of fast waking (6.5kph). While a brisk jog at 10kph over the same time frame would burn almost double- 823 calories.
So many people are so time poor these days, it’s just not possible to walk for hours on end to burn serious calories. Many want more from their precious exercise time. However, if you can’t, don’t or won’t run, or don’t do other more intense (& complex) forms of exercise, then that’s a problem.
Additionally, there’s benefits from more vigorous exercise that walking doesn’t offer. Unless you can find ways of making walking more intense...
3 ways to make walking more demanding & effective
1. Carry some weight
I used to think walking while holding weights only slowed you down. Then I tested that with clients and found heart rate increased by 10bpm (at the same speed) The key here is the weight. 1 to 2.5kg is enough to make a difference but not so much that it’ll burn and fatigue your shoulders and arms after a few minutes. What’s even better is carrying is it on your torso. You can now get specially designed weighted vests for that very purpose. The weight is distributed very evenly around front and back of the upper body. It’s possible to buy 10 or 20kg vests, many of which you can remove weight from to a level that suits. Of course you don’t have to invest in special gear. A backpack filled with water bottles or similar will do the job. Try it. I’m sure you’ll notice a difference. Remember though, keep the pace up!
2. Time yourself
Put a little pressure on yourself to do your usual walk as quickly as possible. This’ll bring new purpose to your routine. Intensity will definitely go up. See how far you can get in an hour. See how much you can improve upon that in a month. You may surprise yourself with just how far and fast you can go when the clock is running. Striving to do a personal best can be a great challenge and add interest to a walking habit. *Technique tip- lengthen and quicken arm swing and your legs will follow suit, leading to much faster walking.
3. Go up some hills or stairs
Often dreaded yet also often easy to find. Everyone knows how much a decent hill or set of stairs gets the heart and lungs going. You can look to add in a hill to a walking route or do several repetitions of a particular hill or set of stairs. It’ll certainly take your walking workouts to a new level. If you want a real challenge combine all 3 suggestions i.e., carry some weights, while timing yourself walking up hills or stairs. That’s a workout that’ll near jogging for calories burnt- provided you push yourself.
Put some spring in your step
It’s really about being proactive and taking some simple steps- pun intended! It doesn’t need to be complicated, just that bit more effort and intention can add so much to your walks. Why not try 1, or all 3 of the suggestions on your next walk!?
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