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And it’s true. Aside from talking one-hour walks each day, I park my car the furthest away from any store entrance, I walk to get my lunch instead of drive, I walk to friends’ houses or take public transportation when I can (which innately promotes walking), and so on. I find every excuse to walk versus not.
You may have a Fitbit that tracks your every step, or you might not and, instead, just spend “x” number of minutes walking per day.
A lot of experts say walking 10,000 steps a day is ideal, which amounts to approximately 60 minutes per day, which equates to 300-500 calories. Not bad! That’s one pound for every 10 days—35 pounds per year. Just from walking!
Even researchers have found that walking a mere 30 minutes a day is beneficial. Walking lessens stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, helps boost your overall mood, prevents chronic disease and promotes weight loss.
“Walking is the No. 1 exercise I recommend to most of my patients because it is very easy to do, requires nothing but a pair of tennis shoes, and has tremendous mental and physical benefits,” said Melina B. Jampolis, MD, author of The Doctor on Demand Diet, to Prevention.
How fast should you walk, though? Some say you can assess your effort—AKA Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)—on a scale of 1-10, and we talk about that more below.
People constantly questioning my walking—and its health benefits—inspired me to research other walking-based workouts, just in case I want to vary things up a bit. Here are 5 of the best walking workouts I found and tested, and that you should try, as well.
1. Switch It Up
Sure, you may like walking briskly, but experts recommend you switch it up by walking fast for 30 seconds, at a “7” or “8” level, then moderately for 20-30 minutes, more of a “4” level.
2. De-Stress To “One-Two”
Yep, repeat “one-two” as your feet hit the pavement or grass or sand or whatever surface you’re walking on. This will help you stay focused on the task at hand (or foot, as it were). “Walk to the beat of the energizing 43-minute playlist I use to keep a steady pace without thinking,” said Whitney M. Cole, a trainer in Los Angeles who leads popular power-walk workouts. You can find her playlist here.
3. Add Your Arms And Shoulders Into The Mix
To add more intensity to your walking workout, add a resistance band to the mix (or two full water bottles).
Hold out the ends of the band in front of you every three minutes, about shoulder height.
Then, pull your arms out to your sides. After 10-15 times, walk 20-30 minutes at a “6-7” level.
4. Add Hills, Stairs, Or Walking Poles To The Mix… Or All Three
Did you know that, when you walk uphill, you burn 60 percent more calories per mile? Stairs, too, burn more calories—four more per minute. And, yes, walking poles help burn extra calories, too. So get off your beaten walking path and find some new scenery… with inclines.
5. Shuffle, Shuffle And Skip
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This one’s called “Shuffle, Shuffle, and Skip,” and entails just that. It works more body parts than the average walk—specifically, your thighs and the sides of your buttocks. All you have to do is shuffle right, shuffle left, then skip. Easy, right?
You do each for a minute, then repeat it 10 times if you’re doing a 30-minute workout. You can also do good old regular walking if the shuffling and skipping proves to be too exhausting. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone!) I liked this workout a lot, because it was the toughest of the five and I truly felt like I was getting toned and working more muscles.
Photo by Peter Blanchard