A mounting body of research shows that walking is a good workout. Whether you’re ambling or motoring it will deliver some benefits. But if you really want to benefit from your walking workout, you can throw a few curveballs into your exercise program.
Health experts say that walking 30-40 minutes five times a week has numerous health benefits, both mentally and physically. Any form of exercise that encourages heart rate, blood flow and deeper breathing is going to have some benefits.
But if you want to get the most out of a walking workout, there are certain strategies you could use to boost the benefits. It’s worth bearing in mind that, over time, following the same workout pattern means you will plateau.
Therefore, it’s important to add variation to your walking workout. You can do that whether you’re walking in the park, in the countryside or at the gym. Let’s take a look.
The intensity of your workout is clearly going to play a role in the benefits you get from a walking workout. Brisk walking, for example, is better as a cardio workout, but a leisurely walk can do wonders for your cognitive function.
If you walk on the treadmill at the gym, it can be easy to set it to a low speed and zone out for 30 minutes. But eventually, your body will stop responding to the repetitiveness of walking at the same pace.
To get more from your walking workout on the treadmill, alter the speeds. Walk quicker for a little while, then slow it right down to get your breath back before gradually picking up the pace again.
If you’re a gym-goer and scoff at treadmill walking, you may want to reconsider your views. A 2016 study found that walking has the same cardio benefits as running but is less impactful on your joints. There are also other reasons why walking is a better choice than running for some people.
Therefore, over time, walking is better for your ankles, knees, hips and lower back. It’s worth bearing in mind. There are other means of burning off the calories and enhancing your cardio in the gym without damaging your joints.
Alternate your walking speed
We mentioned chaining your pace on the treadmill. This is also something you should be doing to achieve superior brisk walking goals.
Interval walking has been found to be an effective strategy for a walking workout. It enables you to recover your breath and complete a longer distance.
Elite athletes say an interval a pyramid strategy is an optimum way to ramp up your fitness routine. This involves a 10-15 minute warm-up of walking at a regular pace and gradually picking up speed.
Once you start your pyramid – a stage of five gears – pick up the pace for one or two minutes at a time until you reach an ideal brisk walking pace of 2-3 mph.
When you hit fifth gear you have a choice; to slow down gear by gear from four to one or straight down to one and back to five.
Your strategy will largely depend on how laboured your breathing is after your two-minute stint in fifth gear. You can even mix the order of gears you come down in as well.
The purpose of the pyramid workout is to give yourself sufficient recovery time so that you have the energy to go again, and again. It helps you to keep pushing yourself so you get the most out of your walking workout.
Add weights to your backpack
If you want to build muscle mass as well as improve your stamina during your walking workout, wear a backpack that is laden down with weights.
Carrying weight means you expend more energy. This is a simple yet effective technique to build your fitness levels and get more benefits from a walking workout.
Wearing a heavy backpack will make your pace more laboured, but also means you work your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
The weights you use can be anything you can comfortably fit into a backpack. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy dumbbells. Any household objects that have some weight will do; books for example.
You could even purchase some ankle weights. They are not expensive but will build up your leg muscles and help you get more from your walking workout quicker.