How to Get the Most out of Your Walk

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: June 4, 2020

No gym required, walking is a great, simple way to exercise. It’s not about the fancy clothes, gear, or expertise, and it’s easy, cheap, and remarkably kind to the body. Walking is a wealth of wins. It’s physically pleasing and emotionally soothing. Bonus: walking to get somewhere is easier on the wallet and even better, kinder on the planet than driving.

Good for your health

Walking is a wonderful option for meeting the quota of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. It can also be fun – a way to get quality time with a companion, and the best avenue for experiencing a landscape. If it’s rainy, fine, use a treadmill indoors where you can even read or watch TV. Nice outside? Awesome! Go round and round on a track, hike through the woods, or just stick to the streets of your neighborhood.

Going for a brisk one-mile walk burns nearly as many calories as a moderately paced mile run. And the added health benefits? Wow. Walking as little as an hour a week, at any pace, reduces risk of heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, it provides stronger bones, improved balance, lower risk of injury from falls, and – hello – less weight gain!*

Incorporating walking as part of your routine is an easy way to build exercise into your daily schedule:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Squeeze a walk in over lunch, or implement walking meetings at work.
  • Instead of driving when you do local errands, walk. If you do drive, park farther away from your destination to add some extra steps.

Keep it moving

Creativity can ensure you’ll keep yourself active. Try to walk at the same time each day. Find someone to walk with. Tracking your walks can even make it easier. Whether it be through wearing a pedometer or simply writing in a journal/log.

The key to walking, as with any form of fitness and even nutrition, is variation. Variety staves off boredom, challenges the body, and increases cognitive health. And there are so many ways to incorporate variety into your walks. For example:

  • Add intervals into your routine. Walk briskly for a mile or two than slow it back down for a mile and then repeat.
  • If you want to go faster, try taking faster steps instead of lengthening your strides.
  • Pump your arms as you increase your pace, keeping them bent instead of down at your side.

Walking on grass or gravel burns more calories than walking on a flat, concrete surface. Try using light hand weights, but carefully. This can boost your caloric expenditure, but if done incorrectly can alter your arm swing and lead to muscle soreness.

Always clear exercise with your physician.

No equipment required

The beauty of walking is that the only real gear you need is a pair of good sneakers. Make sure your kicks are comfy. Ones that will not hurt you. Just about any cushioned, light, low-heeled sneaker will work, but you can also invest in sneakers designed specifically for walking and for your specific stride and feet. Many running stores have treadmills to analyze how you move and the type of sneaker best suited for your specific gait and needs. But most importantly, make sure you have something that you feel comfortable with.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get stepping. Happy walking!

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*https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults