February 2023

4 Ways to Step Up Your Walking Workout

In many ways, walking is one of the easiest and most accessible workouts. Just put one foot in front of the other and you’re off!

Not only is it simple, but it’s effective. The perks of walking regularly include:

  • Better sleep

  • Reduced stress

  • Improved mood

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Less risk for certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease

You can reap these benefits with a straightforward walking routine. Or add some variety to your walking workouts to avoid boredom and meet different fitness goals. Here are 4 new ways to walk, based on your objectives.

Goal #1: Enhance your endurance: Pick up some poles

Nordic walking uses special weighted poles to better challenge your whole body. Research shows the method gets results. Even people with heart conditions could walk longer after a few months of regular Nordic walking.

Don’t have poles? Check with your local community or recreation center. They may offer both lessons and equipment.

Goal #2: Turn up the burn: Dress in a vest

Weighted vests are sometimes used for high-intensity workouts and in tests for physically demanding jobs like firefighting. But they also may be a good way to get more benefits from the sidewalk, treadmill, or trail.

Studies suggest weighted vests make each stride more physically demanding. As long as the weight is evenly distributed, it shouldn’t hamper your gait or increase your risk for injury.

Goal #3: Better your balance: Walk backward

Throw your walk into reverse and you’ll enhance your equilibrium. Improved balance goes a long way in reducing your risk of falling.

What’s more, backward walking is often used to help in the recovery of people who have had a stroke, or those who have Parkinson disease or low back pain. It also seems to ease knee pain in people with osteoarthritis.

Goal #4: Maximize your minutes: Integrate intervals

Brief bursts of walking at an up-tempo pace improve your fitness in less time. Intervals might look like this: After a 5-minute warm-up, alternate 60 seconds of brisk walking with 60 seconds at a comfortable pace.

No matter which variation you choose, start with a pair of well-fitting shoes, or boots if you’re going to walk on a trail. Share your plan with a friend to help you stay on track—or better yet, recruit a walking buddy to join you.



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
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