Lose weight, tone up and boost your energy with just 30 minutes of walking.
If a gym session is out of the question—perhaps you’re short on time or simply don’t have the energy, then a simple walk can provide a multitude of health and fitness benefits.
In fact, whoever said you need to exercise intensely every day to tone up and get in shape, was wrong. The humble walk is one of the underrated forms of exercise and even a short walk on your lunch break can be beneficial.
Our bodies were made to walk. We walk around the house, the office, perhaps we stroll to the shops or pop out to grab lunch; it’s one of the most natural movements we do on a day-to-day basis. There’s research to suggest that walking can boost our energy, improve mood and reduce stress. Plus, there’s even research that found 30 minutes of walking, five days a week, actually lowered the risk of coronary heart disease by 19%.
And, if you’re walking outside, as opposed to on the treadmill, you’ll reap all the benefits of being outside; sunlight, nature and (hopefully!) fresh air! All of this while burning calories too; you can expect to burn around 150 calories for every 30 minutes of walking.
If you’re interested in turning your walk into something a little tougher, to ramp up the body and mind benefits, give some of these useful tricks a try.
ADD AN INCLINE
On the treadmill, this is easily done. If you’re taking a walk outside, try to find a spot with a hill, whether steep or gentle. An incline can burn up to 100 extra calories. Adding an incline into your walk forces your cardiovascular system to work that little bit harder, plus it also helps to tone the legs and bum as the muscles in your lower body have to work harder to climb the hill. Squeeze your core muscles as you walk uphill to get an ab workout in too!
FIND SOME STEPS
A set of steps is one of the best ways to make your walk, work harder. Steps, much like a hill, fire up the muscles in the lower body including the glutes, quads and hamstrings, and calf muscles. With all these muscles working harder, it’s only natural that our heart had to work harder too, further helping to boost fitness levels. If you don’t come across some steps on your walk, try skipping the lift at work, and instead climb the stairs to your floor. You’ll be surprised at how tough yet rewarding it can be!
CHOOSE THE PERFECT PLAYLIST
Music of a certain tempo can naturally encourage you to walk quicker, without you even noticing. One study ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51024034) found that listening to tunes with a tempo of around 100 beats per minute (bpm) was ideal to keep up a ‘brisk’ walking pace.
It’s simple to choose the right tracks; both YouTube and Spotify have playlists specially curated with 100bpm tracks.
WALK WITH WEIGHTS
Ankle and wrist weights can be extremely useful tools to increase the resistance during your walk. An increase in resistance can strengthen and tone muscles, whilst also increasing the calorie burn of your walk. In fact, a short walk will feel a lot tougher with some weights thrown in. If you don’t own any ankle or wrist weights, try adding weight to a backpack and walking with that instead.
INCREASE THE PACE
The quicker you walk, the harder your body has to work, and the more calories you’ll end up burning. Try walking faster whilst pumping your arms more vigorously to increase your power. You could even mix up the timings and go for an interval walk; walking steadily for 30 seconds then speeding it up for the next 30 before going back to a steady walk. If you are hoping to walk a little quicker, choose the right footwear. Opt for comfortable trainers over hard shoes or heels to protect feet and make your walk far more bearable!
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*Content written by Lucy Gornall