How to make walking a workout

By Kayla Hartson
Student Fitness Program Coordinator

It is no secret that simply walking can improve overall health and wellness and reduce the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Despite the benefits, many people do not consider walking intense enough to be considered a workout. However, for people who are not able to run for any reason, walking is a great alternative that still can help to achieve health and fitness goals. Walking is low impact and can be done almost anywhere.

For those just beginning a fitness journey, start small. Developing cardiorespiratory endurance takes time and consistency. Start with a 30-minute walk 3-5 days per week and increase the intensity as that becomes too easy. Remember that some movement is always better than none!

Here are a few tips on how to make a walk more intense:

  • Intervals – Switching between a moderate pace and a fast pace is an excellent way to increase heart rate and burn calories. Start with a steady, moderate walking pace for 2 minutes followed by 1 minute of a brisk, fast walk. Repeat this for 30 minutes.
  • Add in body weight exercises – Add some strength by incorporating body weight exercises. For example, during a 30-minute walk, pause every 10 minutes and incorporate squats, lunges and/or pushups.
  • Incline – One of the benefits of living in Arizona is access to so many different hiking trails. Walking at an incline is a great way to increase heart rate and intensity. Using a treadmill is also a great way to incorporate incline intervals.
  • Use weight – Try using ankle weights, a weighted vest or a weighted backpack to increase intensity.
  • Focus on posture – Focusing on proper posture for just 30 minutes a day can lead to reduced neck and back pain. When walking, think about relaxing shoulders away from the ears, gently squeezing shoulders back, lengthening the spine from the top of the head down to the tailbone and pulling the belly button to the spine to engage the abdominal muscles. This may seem like a lot to think about at once. Try picking one or two cues to start and then add on as posture improves.

For those new to exercise, here are tips on how to simply incorporate more walking into a day:

  • Walk while talking on the phone
  • Always take the stairs
  • Park far away from the door
  • Go for a 20-minute walk first thing in the morning
  • Set a reminder on an activity tracker or phone
  • Go for a walk after dinner
  • Take dogs or kids along
  • Find a walking partner or create a neighborhood group

All these tips lead to benefits such as increased heart rate, more daily movement and an increase in energy and positivity!

Follow the Student Fitness Centers on Instagram @gcu.sfc for more health and fitness tips!

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