Now that the weather has improved, it’s time to improve your walking workouts by adding some intensity. By increasing the pace, or adding resistance, through incline, you will ramp up your fitness and get more out of each walk.
“More than 145 million adults now include walking as part of a physically active lifestyle. People walk for transportation, relaxation, exercise, or for the dog.” According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Walking is easy to fit into your schedule, can be done anywhere, requires little equipment, and is easier on your body than running.
The CDC notes the following health benefits of regular walking:
- Weight control
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduced risk for some cancers
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Improved mental health and mood
- Improved ability to do daily activities and prevent falls
- Increased chance of living longer
Get more out of your walk by trying something new:
- Negative split your walk. Pick your favorite out-and-back walk. Walk “out” at a comfortable pace for the first half. Turnaround and come “back” faster, which is a negative split. Go out for 20 minutes then come back in 18, alternatively, go “out” for 2 miles, then come back faster. This workout allows for a nice long warm up, then pushes the pace when you body is ready.
- Visit your local track and enjoy the softer surface, as you pick up the pace. Warm up with an easy 2 lap walk. For the meat of the workout walk a mile, broken into four ¼ miles. Walk the first ¼ mile (1 lap) comfortably fast. Give yourself 30 seconds of recovery before walking the next ¼ faster than the first. Continue that pattern for four laps. Your last lap should be the fastest. Warm down with 2 laps easy. Record your pace for the laps of the mile and repeat the workout again in a week. This works around any circle!
- Add some incline to your walking workout. Hills work all the large muscles of your lower body. Warm up with at least 10 minutes of easy walking before working the hills. Walk a hilly course or do hill repeats on a “good” hill. Start with 3 hills and progress up to 10, over several months. Keep your eyes focused on the top of the hill, use your arms to help you get up the hill, and stay more on the balls of your feet. Stairs are equally challenging. Enjoy a hill in your local park or at a stop along your route.
*TIP: add toe taps to strengthen the muscles in the front of your lower leg. While seated, heel on the ground, tap your toes up and down. Repeat 10 times on each leg. Work up to 3 sets of 10.
Contact a Rolling Strong Coach to explore other ways to fit exercise into your busy life!
by Christy Coughlin, Wellness Coach