5 Ways To Boost The Fitness Benefits Of Walking
Pumping your arms and taking smaller steps turns walking into a full fitness routine.

5 Ways to Boost the Fitness Benefits of Walking

Walking is a great way to burn calories and get in shape, but doesn’t provide much of a cardio or whole body workout unless you do a few extras to boost your heart rate. To increase the health benefits of your regular walks, experiment with these small changes.

1. Move Your Arms

There’s a reason you see race walkers swinging their arms; vigorously pumping your bent arms helps you go faster—and burn more calories. For an even more intense workout, add 3- or 5-pound hand weights.

2. Take Smaller Steps

It’s a common mistake to think that taking longer strides will help you boost your speed. Actually, fitness experts recommend taking shorter, faster steps to increase burn as well as speed. To chart your progress, time yourself while walking 100 steps. After giving yourself a minute to recover, count another 100 steps and try to shave your time by five seconds. Repeat until winded.

3. Incorporate Inclines

You probably already notice that routing yourself over a hill or two gets your heart pumping. But that doesn’t mean you have to scale mountains; it’s actually better to stick with a moderate rise that allows you to maintain your speed, rather than a vertical climb that forces you to slow down.

4. Power Up with Poles

Engaging your upper body and torso turns walking into a whole body workout, which is why so many people use trekking or Nordic poles. And you’ll burn more calories, too – an average of 20 percent more, according to fitness calculators. To get the biggest boost, propel yourself forward by planting your poles slightly behind you.

5. Monitor Your Fitness

Wearing a heart-rate monitor is like having your own personal coach whispering in your ear. Keeping an eye on your monitor can motivate you to speed up when you’re slacking off and let you know when you’re pushing yourself too hard.

Avatar

Melanie Haiken, Health and Fitness Expert

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.