The next time you’re at the grocery checkout, try finding a women’s magazine that does NOT feature a walking workout.
You’ll quickly discover you have a better chance at stumbling across the Ark of the Covenant on your way to the mall.
“Walk Off the Pounds!”
“I lost 10 pounds, improved my eyesight and overcame my fear of clowns by walking!” screams every magazine headline.
We even have a National Walking Day, which we celebrated yesterday on The Bowflex Burn radio show by featuring a man who lost over 100 pounds by simply – you guessed it: walking.
To an outsider, it would seem as if walking solved every problem. And, in some ways it does.
Studies show walking reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, improves heart health, burns calories and even improves creativity.
But we still have Justin Beiber, so clearly it doesn’t eliminate all annoying, unhealthful things from our lives.
Here’s the thing: You have to push it, especially if you want to lose weight.
Yes, any time away from the refrigerator is helpful, but if you really want to count walking as a fat-burning, effort-worthy endeavor, you’ll need to do more than stroll.
For example, check out these calorie burn differences between varying speeds (according to the American College of Sports Medicine, based on a 150 lb. person):
Strolling at a slow pace (2 mph): 143 calories/hour
Walking at a moderate pace (3 mph): 236 calories/hour
Very brisk walk (4 mph): 358 calories/hour
Nearly jogging (4.5 mph): 451 calories/hour
Backpacking: 501 calories/hour
Clearly there’s a huge difference between walking along at a leisurely pace and putting some elbow grease into it. (I threw in backpacking to show how adding some weight to your walk ups the ante even more.)
And while it may seem easy peasy to simply lace up a pair of walking shoes and head out the door to start burning off some poundage, if you do too much too soon you’ll likely end up back on that same couch with an injury.
So go easy in the beginning.
Check out these tips on how to get started and ways to kick it up a notch…
Walk 10 minutes, three to five days a week, at an easy pace
Swing arms freely, step gently and avoid locking knee joints
Stay close to home or in an area with rest stops in case you become tired
After a week, add five minutes to your walk and keep adding five minute increments weekly until you can walk continuously for 25 minutes or longer.
2. Kick it up with interval training
An Australian study showed that women performing interval workouts lost three times as much fat as women who exercised at a continuous pace for the same amount of time.
So once you’ve mastered the basics, pick up the pace with interval walking to burn more calories in the same amount of time.
You can walk up and down hills (or set your treadmill to simulate hills), or vary your pace from moderate to fast.
Sample interval walking workout:
– Warm-up at a slow pace for 1 to 3 minutes
– Walk at a fast pace for 30 seconds
– Walk at a moderate pace for one minute
– Return to a fast pace for another 30 seconds
Repeat fast-walk and moderate-walk cycles for the total length of your workout, striving for 25 to 30 minutes total.
Allow a few minutes at the end to cool down with a slow walk and, as with all walking workouts, a gentle stretch.
Gradually increase your time spent fast walking and reduce slower-paced intervals
3. Engage your arms and core
For a change of pace from interval walking, try “power walking” to increase intensity without adding impact to joints.
Tightening your core muscles and adding arm movements—such as pumping arms back and forth—can help you burn more than 400 calories an hour.
Power walking can be tiring but it should never be painful. Work within your fitness abilities.
Sample power walking routine:
– Warm up at a slow-to-moderate walk for 3 to 5 minutes
– Increase your pace using short, quick steps
– Practice a heel-to-toe roll, pushing off from the heel, rolling through the foot and pushing off your big toe
– Pull in and tighten your abdominal (core) muscles
– Pump your arms: keeping arms bent with fists loosely closed, bring arms back and forth as if skiing
Other quick ways to burn more calories walking:
4. Include hills or stairs
5. Use walking poles
6. Listen to motivating music
7. Compete with others on Facebook walking groups
Which workout will you try this week? Please leave a comment in the section below! I’d love to hear from you!
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Got questions? Comments? Accolades? Please post ’em below or send me a note at Linda@LindaMelone.com.
Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.