Walking is one of the easiest activities you can do to keep healthy. Brisk walking, on the other hand, burns more calories. However, walking at a faster pace requires more strength and resilience – so it helps if you do some exercises for brisk walking first.
However, the extra effort is more rewarding. Brisk walking has numerous health benefits. It helps your heart get stronger, lowers your blood pressure, and strengthens your bones.
These strength exercises for brisk walking are also great for easing stress, boosting the immune system, helping you sleep better, improving your mood, invigorating energy levels, and toning muscles.
Not only that but brisk walking is arguably healthier than many other exercises. Unlike running, for example, walking doesn’t damage ankle and knee joints from the heavy impact on these joints. The gym can cause repetitive strain injuries.
Research shows walking may even prevent certain diseases and prolong your life. If you remind yourself of the benefits and walk every day, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll realise the benefits.
How to Start Exercises for Brisk Walking
As a starting point, walk for at least 30 minutes every other day. After a few weeks, pick up the pace or walk longer.
To get you motivated, you might want to join a walking club or recruit someone to walk with you. Soon you’ll find yourself picking up your pace, increasing your distance, or tackling steep inclines.
The secret to walking faster, longer, and more energetically is a strong, limber body. Preparing your body by increasing your strength and flexibility can also ward off stiffness and pain in your hips, lower back, and shins.
Even high-performance walkers use strength training exercises to enhance the effectiveness of their walking routines.
The best exercises are the ones where you don’t need specialised equipment, weights, or a gym. The only equipment you need is a nearby tree, side of a building, or a bench for stability and balance.
These exercises can be incorporated into your workout any way you like. You can do them all at once or split them up between bouts of walking.
For example, you could walk for 15 minutes, do some exercises, walk another 15 minutes, do some more exercises and so on. Get creative and mix and match different exercises according to your fitness needs.
Talking about creativity, did you know that closing your eyes while doing the standing stretches will also improve your balance? By closing one sense, your other senses work harder.
Remember that the number of reps is only a recommendation and that you should feel free to start with fewer reps or whatever you can handle initially and then gradually increase over time.
Bodyweight exercises can be as effective as lifting weights if you follow certain principles such as performing variations, increasing reps, or train to failure, increasing the time under tension.
Ready to get started?
Strength Exercises for Brisk Walking
1. Heel-Toe Rock
Balance your weight equally on both feet and bend your knees. Gently rock back on your heels and then lift your toes off the ground. With one smooth motion rock forward and roll up onto your toes. Concentrate on using your leg muscles to perform smooth, controlled movements. Confine your movement to below the knees.
Recommended reps: 12 to 15.
2. Pause Walk
Swing one leg forward as if you want to take a step. Before your heel hits the ground, pause with your foot about 3 inches off the ground and your toes pointed up. Count to three and continue pulling your toes back toward your shin.
Repeat the pause with each step forward as you walk for 1 minute. Then walk normally for 1 minute. Repeat the entire cycle two more times.
3. Figure Eights
Stand on one leg, holding on to a pole or a tree for support. With the opposite foot, draw a figure eight in the air, making the top loop in front of your body and the bottom loop behind your body. Gradually increase the size of the figure so that your hip rotates fully in front and back.
Recommended reps: 10 to 20 with each leg.
4. Hip Stretch
This stretch is great for walkers as well as for anyone who has to sit most of the day. Stand tall, with your back straight. Step forward with your right leg, keeping your left foot on the ground.
Make sure that your right knee is squarely over the centre of your right foot, forming a 90-degree angle. Tilt your hips forward until you feel a mild stretch in your left hip.
Keep your left heel flat. Hold for a slow count of five. Step back.
Repeat two more times with your right leg forward, then switch legs to stretch your right hip.
5. Standing Crunch
Place your palms on the tops of your thighs. Round your back and contract your abdominal muscles. While crunching, slide your hands down your thighs to your knees, applying firm pressure along the way. This intensifies the contraction of your abdominal muscles. Relax.
Recommended reps: 12 to 15.
6. Twisting Abs
Place the palm of your right hand on top of your left thigh. Round your back and contract your abdominal muscles as you twist down and to the left.
While crunching, apply firm pressure to your left thigh with your right hand to intensify the contractions of your abdominal muscles.
Recommended reps: 12 each side.
7. Controlled Leg Squats (Quads, part 1.)
This is a controlled leg squat. Be sure to do it slowly so it feels challenging. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Moving to a slow count of five, squat down as far as you comfortably can, but no farther than a 90-degree angle at your knees.
Make sure that your knees are over but not past your toes and your back is straight. Then straighten up to a count of two. If you reach your arms overhead on your way up, you’ll finish each squat by stretching your waist and rib cage.
Work up to 15 to 20 reps. Always follow this exercise with Quads, Part 2.
8. Offset Leg Squat (Quads, part 2)
Stand with one foot on a curb, one in the street. Line up the toes of your street foot just below the instep of your curb foot.
With your weight on your street foot, squat down to a count of two, then straighten up to a count of two. Again, don’t bend your knees more than 90 degrees.
You’re using your whole body as a weight for your leg.
Work up to 10 to 15 reps per side.
9. Prisoner Squats
Place both hands behind your head, stand shoulder-width apart toes pointed forward and do a deep squat really pushing your butt back and down and push up with your cues. Imagine you’re sitting and really pushing up with a hill, not with toes.
Recommended reps: 12-15
10. Lunges – Option 1
Start by standing up tall. Step forward with one foot until your leg reaches a 90-degree angle. Lift your front lunging leg to return to the starting position.
Repeat 10 to 12 reps on one leg, or switch off between legs until you’ve totalled 10 to 12 reps per leg.
11. Lunges – Option 2
Instead of normal forward or back lunge we can combine both. Start with your right leg, hands by your waist, step forward, immediately kick to your back.
Remember proper form is extremely important so keep your chest up, back straight and find your balance. Bend down, lower your body to a 90-degree angle.
Move on to the other side your left leg and repeat. 10-12 reps.
12. Superman + Plank (on the mat)
For this lower back and core muscle exercise you should get down on the floor. You are going to do a Superman to plank, face down – one up Superman push up to a plank. Squeeze a low back good and as you push up come up as one unit.
Recommended reps: 3-5
13. Plank Cross (on the mat)
Begin in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together, and your body in a straight line. Pull your right knee under your belly to touch your left elbow, then release back to start position.
Now pull your left knee under your belly to touch your right elbow, then release back to start position. Keep abs tight and keep body in control.
Continue for desired number of reps. You should aim for at least 20, ideally 30.
14. Knee Tucks
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your side. Lower yourself down into a squat position, with your back as flat as possible for proper alignment.
Lower until it feels as though your heels are about to lift off of the floor. Stay lowered only briefly and then jump up, using your arms for momentum and balance.
Bring both knees as high as possible into the tuck position. You can slap your hands on your knees or leave them by your sides. Make sure that your knees don’t cave inward when in the air or when landing.
Land back down as softly as you can to avoid putting too much pressure on your knees. Your hips should come back and down to absorb some of the impact as well. Stay lowered only briefly, and then repeat the entire movement as quickly as possible, making sure to maintain proper form.
15. Sumo Squat
Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Give yourself a few feet and stand wide. Angle the toes out and away from the centre of your body.
Bend the knees and the hips to lower into your squat, squeezing your glutes at the bottom of the move. Be mindful to keep your back neutral and long, drawing the tailbone straight down to the floor each time.
Avoid allowing your knees to go out beyond your toes or allowing your upper torso to lean forward. Once lowered, press up to standing, driving up through your heels.
Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
16. Bench Dips
Place your hands on a bench or box behind you with your feet together, legs straight and heels on the floor. Lower slowly as far as you can, then press back up powerfully.
It’s slightly tougher to do it this way because you have to lift and lower a higher proportion of your bodyweight.
Add bench dips to your workouts if you’re looking for new ways to strengthen and tone your arms.
17. Toe Tap
A toe tap is a core exercise that targets the rectus abdominus obliques
and so as to begin place your hands underneath your bottom.
Raise your legs to tabletop position, plantar flex the ankles, maintain steady flexion at the knees but slowly extend the right hip reaching your right foot towards the floor. Barely tap your toes to the floor. Raise the right leg back to starting position and repeat with the left.
18. Seated Russian Twist
Start by sitting on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Then lean back so your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
Keep your back straight at this angle throughout the exercise, as it will be tempting to hunch your shoulders forward. Link your hands together in front of your chest, then brace your core and raise your legs up off the ground.
Rotate your arms all the way over to one side, then do the same in the other direction. Count that as one rep and aim for 20 in total, or set a timer for a minute and keep twisting till the beep goes off.
19. Tempo Single-Leg Deadlift
This will help to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, while training balance. Stand on one leg, with a slight bend in your knee. Engage your core, and square your hips.
Then, without rounding your back, reach forward and down toward the floor slowly (taking three to five seconds), lifting your free leg behind you until your upper body and leg are in the same plane, parallel to the floor or as far as you can go with good form.
Pause for a second, then reverse the movement for one repetition. Keep your hips level (point your raised foot toward the floor) and your back straight throughout the movement.
Focus on leg control and balance. To make it even harder, extend the duration of the lowering phase. Repeat 8-12 reps on each leg. Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.
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