How to Turn Your Walk into a Great Workout

I’m a runner. It’s my primary form of fitness and it gives me that “je ne sais quoi” that I can’t get from other activities.

So imagine my annoyance when I crack my baby toe into my ottoman one morning in late December and my running is put on ice (along with my toe) for a bit.

Once I could jam my foot into my running shoe (and buddy-taped my injured piggie to its neighbor) I was off. For a walk.

That’s right, as I’m healing I’ve been walking. And while still not my favorite means of exercise, walking is a most excellent way to workout. It’s weight-bearing so it gets high marks for improving bone-density. It’s cheap because all you need is a pair of shoes and it can be a wonderful connector between friends, neighbors and family.

Since I’m replacing a higher-intensity workout due to my injury I thought I’d share my top tips to make your walk as aerobically beneficial as possible. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy your walk even if you’re breathing heavier than you normally do.

  1. First off, you have to move your arms. Keep your shoulders relaxed with your arms at a 90 degree angle and move them front and back (not side to side in front of your body). Here’s a fun fact. Your feet move as fast as your arms move. So if you want to get faster, move your arms faster. Try it.
  2. Walk like you are going somewhere. In other words, don’t dawdle. Don’t amble. Focus on the path, road, trail and move.
  3. Keep your stride short, don’t over-stride. You want to take shorter steps and have a faster foot turnover. This will protect your knees from a wrong or uneven landing (when your leg is fully extending and all of your weight is coming onto that locked out joint) and you’ll walk lighter and faster. Honestly, once you get the arm thing down, the feet will follow.
  4. Get off the streets. Find a trail for one or two walks a week. Trails will help break up the monotony, add intensity (around here we don’t have many flat trails) and build up strength in your lower body as you step over and on uneven surfaces. It’s great for ankle stability as well. An extra bonus is that trails are softer than sidewalks and streets which is better for your body.

Aim to get out 3-5 times a week for your walks. Pick a few shorter walks of maybe 45 minutes (because, you know, you have a life) and then a few longer treks of an hour or more. If you don’t have that kind of time, find hills and hit those a few times a wee

Walking is a great way to stay healthy. Even if you do other activities, taking a walk after dinner or on the weekend with your family is a great idea.

Now go run! (Or walk, we’re inclusive!)

Keli 🙂

PS – If you want to add weight to your workout to increase the intensity I recommend a weighted vest or filling a backpack with water bottles. I don’t advise carrying hand weights because carrying the added weight in your hands can strain wrists, shoulders, elbows and fingers.

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