Is walking a part of your exercise regimen? Do you hate to sweat or feel self-conscious at the gym? Perhaps walking is the only form of exercise that you feel comfortable with doing? Or perhaps it is the only type of exercise that you have managed to squeeze into your busy life?
You are in good company. The CDC reports that from 2005 to 2010, the number of people walking as a form of exercise grew from 56 percent to 62 percent.
Walking has long been shown to help control one’s weight and lower one’s risk of various diseases, depression, and type 2 diabetes.
There are ways, however, to take walking from a good workout to a great workout. Here is how to make the time you spend walking more efficient.
Put down your phone
According to Reyna Injury Lawyers in Dallas, “Texting while walking is dangerous for a number of reasons. If you are traveling outside around moving vehicles, there is a great risk of getting distracted and injured.
Pedestrians can be seriously injured at crosswalks and busy intersections because they are not paying attention to their surroundings. People who are texting tend to take slower steps and deviate from their paths as well, which also increases the risk of accidents.”
Listening to podcasts or music is fine, but the important thing to remember is to keep your eyes on the road. A distracted walker is one who could trip, fall, or get hit by a car, resulting in injury.
Use a fitness tracker
Do you have a competitive nature? Do you enjoy trying to break your own records when it comes to a favorite computer game? You can apply this personality trait to help you get more out of your walks.
Tracking the steps you walk or the distance traveled can help you steadily improve your speed, endurance, plus the calories you burn. Download a fitness tracker app on your phone or use a fitness wearable.
Keep an eye on your stats at the end of each exercise session. Evaluate what you need to do to improve the stats for your next walk.
Figure out good form
Walking fast does not necessarily mean using long strides. In fact, Active.com suggests that to go fast, exercisers should take small but quick steps over longer ones. Additionally, try swinging your arms in natural movements from your shoulder. Arms should be bent at the elbows at 90 degrees. The faster you swing your arms, the faster your pace will go, as your legs will naturally follow the pace set by your arms. This little trick will give your upper body a workout as well as bump up your calorie burn by 5 to 10 percent.
Change up your routine
Sticking to paved roads might be making your walks less vigorous than they could be. If you have a park nearby, make it a point to walk on the grass, sand, or dirt. Because this terrain is not entirely level, walking on non-paved ground works out more muscles than walking on a sidewalk. Same goes for walking downhill. Just remember to be cautious as you walk on unusual terrain to avoid twisting an ankle.
Changing your routine a little could also prevent you from getting bored. Find small ways to keep yourself interested and invested in your daily walks. For instance, go on a walk date with a friend. Or challenge yourself to walk to a distant shopping mall, etc.
Remember, it all adds up
Recent research into how much exercise one needs to do in order to receive health benefits has surprised many. Previously, US health guidelines suggested 30 minutes of continuous exercise per day.
But new evidence suggests that getting all your exercise in one uninterrupted go has the same benefits as getting the same amount in sporadic increments throughout your day.
In this research, scientists listed sporadic exercise as exercise that is under 5 minutes of physical activity.So this comes as excellent news to those of us who find it hard to dedicate a chunk of time to exercise. Simply by increasing sporadic physical activity, we can be gaining huge benefits.
One effective way to gauge how we are doing in increasing our physical activity is to use a step tracker on your phone or via another tracking device. Check in at the end of the day and review your step total. Try to bring your daily average step count up each day.