We all know how important it is to exercise daily, including cardio for your heart health, and strength training to build muscles and for your bone health. However, getting enough cardio for many people can be challenging, especially if the thought of jogging for miles on end or slogging away on the boring treadmill is not very appealing. In addition, if you suffer from joint pain or injuries, jogging may aggravate the problem.
But, just because you don’t want to jog or run doesn’t mean you have to give up cardio, walking is a healthy and viable option with many, many benefits! If you are on a weight loss and health and wellness journey and are looking for ways to add exercise into your life, walking outside is a fantastic way to get moving and it helps boost your mental health and overall well being.
When just starting on a walking routine be sure to start slow. You don’t want to go into it full bore and injure yourself. Let’s take a look at several styles of walking that can help you get started and advanced walking techniques that can provide profound benefits to help you achieve your goals.
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Walk at Least 30 Minutes Per Day
Establishing a walking routine is really important when you are just starting out on your health and wellness journey or even if you are recovering from an injury. First, get yourself a pair of quality, comfortable walking shoes, comfortable leggings or shorts, a good water bottle to help you stay hydrated, and create a fun music playlist that helps you get in the right mood. Pick music that sets the pace that works best for your walking style.
Try and shoot for walking 30 minutes per day every day of the week. Many experts agree that even if you cannot allow a straight 30-60 minutes a day, try breaking the walking into smaller chunks of time. Go for several ten minute walks throughout the day and take actionable steps to get more walks in, such as parking further away at the grocery store, or when meeting friends for coffee. The main goal when you are starting out is making walking and being active a habit, and one that not only is good for your body, but is good for your mental and emotional self as well.
Now that you have established a good routine for daily walking, whether for 30 minutes straight or broken down into chunks of time, and you have remained injury free, it is time to start adding a bit more of a challenge to your routine. To burn even more fat and improve your overall fitness level, try interval walking, by adding a short burst of really fast walking for a set amount of time and then balancing that with a moderate pace. A stopwatch or fitness tracker with a timer can be helpful for interval walking.
Start out with a leisurely 5 minute warm up and then walk at a moderate pace for about five minutes before you begin your first interval. Walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then moderate your pace and walk for about three minutes and then begin another interval of 30-second bursts of fast walking with three minutes of moderate. Do this set of intervals for at least 30 minutes. Take the last five minutes to cool down period and then you will have finished your interval walking set! As you become more fit, you can increase your speed bursts to 45-60 seconds and extend your moderate pace and walking time.
When you are feeling strong and want to add more resistance to your walking routine, find a set of stairs to climb. However, before you embark on stair climbing, be sure to consult with your doctor to be sure you are physically ready for the challenge. Stair climbing requires good balance, so don’t do any stair climbing if you feel dizzy or out of sorts.
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You also want to be sure that you don’t hyperventilate when you climb, so again, be sure you are physically able to start this type of walking program. Walking briskly upstairs increases your blood flow and oxygen uptake and is great for building aerobic endurance as well as tightening and toning some of the large muscle groups, such as your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Stair climbing is also great for engaging and strengthening the core muscles.
Where to find stairs to climb? Many beach accesses have stairs and sports stadiums are a great place to climb stairs. You can find stairs at local parks and you may even have them in your own home. And you can always utilize the stair climber machine at your gym. Be sure and use proper form, such as keeping your core muscles engaged, your back straight, and use both the toe and the ball of your foot when stepping on the stairs.
Adding Hills to Your Routine
Walking up hills is a great way to burn calories on your walking routine. As with most interval types of training, start out slow on level ground as a warm up and then begin your hill climb. You can walk up the hill at a slow and steady pace, or add short bursts of fast/slow walking.
Be sure to keep your back straight when walking uphill. If you find yourself leaning far forward, you probably need to slow your pace down. Also, keep your core muscles engaged and avoid walking on your toes. It is best to use your whole foot to make sure you have proper form and don’t do any damage to the ball of your foot, your ankles, or strain your calf muscles. Once you reach the top, give yourself a pat on the back and be careful when walking back down the hill. You will use different muscles when descending and you don’t want momentum to carry you too fast down the hill.
Incorporate Body Weight Exercises While Walking
A fun way to get a total body workout is by utilizing interval walking and then stopping every 10-15 minutes to do a strength training exercise. If you see a park bench, you can use the back of the bench do two sets of push-ups, 15-20 repetitions per set. Do another five minutes of fast walking, find a bench and do two sets of 15-20 reps of triceps dips (which helps to tighten up the back of your arms) and after another five minutes of fast walking, find a piece of grass or soft forest floor and perform a plank for as long as you can hold good form. Start with 15-30 seconds and build up to one minute. Planks are great for core development; just be sure to start slow and always hold good form.
Run Walk Run
Once you have established a solid walking program that utilizes fast walking, stair climbing, and hill walking, and if your body feels like it, you can start to add short stints of running. Jeff Galloway developed the Run Walk Run system in 1974 to help non-runners learn how to run and to train your body to push further from just speed-walking.
Adding running intervals into your walking routine can help you burn more calories and help to boost your metabolism. Start incorporating this system by adding short jogging intervals per walk, such as a little jog for 15 seconds for every 10 minutes of walking. Once you feel comfortable with this schedule, you can start adding more and longer jogging intervals to your walks. A Walk Run Walk schedule is perfect if you are learning how to run or are training for a 5K or longer race.
Foods and Supplements to Help With Recovery
As important as exercise itself is, so are the type of foods, beverages, and supplements you take to help with the recovery of your muscles. Of course, you will be drinking plenty of water during your exercise, but as you sweat, you also lose vital electrolytes as well. Instead of reaching for a sugary sports drink, use Isagenix AMPED Hydrate. This tasty and refreshing beverage supplement helps to re-energize and re-hydrate your body while providing essential nutrients and electrolytes. AMPED Hydrate contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors and is soy, dairy and gluten-free.
After your exercise routine, you want to replenish your system with just the right amount of carbohydrates and protein and an easy and delicious way to do this is with an Isagenix IsaLean Shake. With 24 grams of protein, 24 grams of good carbohydrates, six grams of healthy fat, and eight grams of fiber, tasty IsaLean Shakes are the perfect post-workout meal replacement drink.
Congratulations on taking the first steps towards improving your health and wellness by adding walking into your routine! You will feel fantastic, burn calories, build muscle, and enjoy all the many benefits that walking provides.