Walking might not seem like a high-impact workout, but it’s an easy and cost-effective way to lose weight and maintain health. Taking a walk every day is enjoyable and can help reduce stress. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything. You can take a walk at any time — convenient, right?
It’s a common misconception that cardio means a lot of sweaty physical exertion. Fact check — it doesn’t. Cardio is short for “cardiorespiratory activity”, referring to any physical activity that uses your respiratory and circulatory systems to supply oxygen to your active muscles. Any low or moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, falls under this definition.
Why Should I Include Walking as Exercise?
There’s no need to overlook walking as a form of exercise. It can improve stamina, heart health and burn excess calories. These benefits all put you in good stead to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals. You don’t have to walk for hours either. A brisk 10-minute walk every day contributes to your recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.
There are other advantages to incorporating walking into your exercise routine:
- Walking is an accessible form of exercise for all fitness levels and ages.
- It’s a good social activity. You can meet up with friends or family while getting in some cardio at the same time.
- You can make it part of your routine — for instance, walking the dog or running an errand.
Equally, you might want to supercharge your walking routine to reach specific goals. If you’re looking to tone particular muscle groups, for example, you might want to include other forms of exercise in your routine. You can achieve this by enhancing your walk with strength workouts and different elevations. Here, we’ll look at ways to make walking an effective part of your exercise routine and fitness goals.
Incorporate Walking Into Your Client’s Plans
The wonderful thing about walking is that it’s accessible to everyone. This means that older clients or those with low fitness levels can easily incorporate it into their routine. Plus, it’s convenient exercise that doesn’t require additional equipment or particular skills. Most able bodied people can walk. If you need more persuading, read on to find out how walking is a valid form of exercise for you and your clients.
How to Spice up Your Walking Routine
Let’s help you get the most out of walking with some ways to revolutionise your exercise routine. If you have a problem with your joints, walking might not be the best option. Look into exercise classes at your local swimming pool or leisure centre instead. Water supports your joints while you’re exercising, which can help strengthen your muscles.
Before you start, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes or trainers that provide adequate support. For longer walks, take water to stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothes for the weather. You may want to invest in specialist walking shoes and some waterproofs for more challenging adventures.
1. A Walk a Day Keeps the Doctors Away
If your main source of exercise is walking, aim to walk for at least 30 minutes per day. You can set this as your end goal, starting with 10 minutes a day at first and building up. To motivate yourself, set a step goal on your phone or device. If you lead a busy lifestyle, this is a great way to incorporate walking into your daily routine.
With a set goal for your daily steps, you can easily see how much walking you’ve done and how much more you need to do. Start as you mean to finish — it’s all about maintaining consistency. Make walking a daily habit first, and then start increasing the duration of your walks.
Related: Tracking Health-Related Goals
2. Brisk and Steady Wins the Race
Although walking is a form of cardio, going at a brisk pace burns more calories. So, pick up the pace! If it’s a challenge for you to walk briskly for 30 minutes, add breaks into your walk. Try alternating your pace between regular and speed walking to make it easier. It’s important to adjust your walking routine so that you continue to make progress toward your fitness goals.
For example, if your daily walk begins to feel easier, it’s a sign you need to either walk faster or cut out intervals. You will inevitably build up endurance if you remain consistent, so make sure to adjust your routine accordingly.
Am I Walking Fast Enough?
When we refer to a “brisk walk”, it can be hard to know what that means. After all, we’re all different when it comes to endurance, age and ability. A brisk walk is about 3 miles an hour — so a faster pace than a stroll to the shops. Also, certain apps on your smartphone or device can tell you if you’re walking fast enough.
TIP: One quick way to tell if you’re walking quickly enough is if you’re still able to talk, but you can’t sing the words to a song.
3. What’s That Coming over the Hill?
Hopefully, it’s you as you’ve added some terrain variation to your walking routine. It can be boring traversing the same route over and over. Switch things up by introducing new challenges that push you to see the results you want faster. Walking up an incline like a hill will engage your leg muscles more than walking on level ground. This gives your glutes, hamstrings and quads a more intense workout.
4. Walking with Weights
Building or toning muscle might be a priority for your fitness goals. If that’s the case, add weights to your hands and/or ankles. Weights make your body work harder while you’re walking. Also, walking with light dumbbells exercises another part of your body: the arms. You can even carry two 500 ml bottles of water with you and aim to finish them before returning home.
5. Increase Your Walking Distance over Time
To get the best out of your walking exercise, be mindful of when it’s time to increase the intensity of your workout. This is essential to make progress in any form of exercise. Start gradually increasing how far you walk after a few weeks of walking the same distance. Get lost in your favourite playlist or podcast to distract yourself, and you’ll find that your walks fly by.
Walking IS Exercise
As we’ve shown here, there are many ways to incorporate walking into your exercise routine. To see results faster, it’s vital to stay motivated — a personal trainer might help you keep on the right track. But you don’t have to make time in a busy schedule to accommodate your walk. Think about how you can substitute transport or social meetings with a walk in your daily routine:
- If you can, walk to work or at least part of the way.
- Walk to the shops instead of driving.
- Opt for the stairs over the lift.
- Avoid using the car for short journeys.
- If you have kids and are able to, walk them to and from school — that way, both you and your children get some exercise in.
- Next time you’re meeting up with a friend, why not go on a walk instead?
- Go for a walk with your family or friends after dinner.
However you choose to exercise, it’s essential that you enjoy it. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and ease stress, as well as promote health benefits.
If your exercise journey has inspired you to become a personal trainer, enrol in one of our fitness training courses. The Fitness Group offers one-to-one tutor support. We’ll even help you find a job after you graduate.