Walking is a lot like breathing: You do it without thinking most days, but you can also make it a conscious effort (e.g. yoga breathing) and get more out of it. Unless you’re wearing Spanx, in which case losing consciousness may be your only reminder to breathe.
And, like breathing, walking’s pretty boring on its own. Although in the case of breathing it wouldn’t take long for you to realize that, boring or not, you don’t have much of a choice.
Walking also fills a purpose by making it easier to get where you need to go – AND it counts as real exercise if you walk like you mean it.
The catch: It’s easy to start out with good intentions but they can quickly fall by the wayside. Like when you end up stopping to chat with a neighbor, go inside for tea and completely forget why you left the house in the first place.
Who can blame you? Socializing over tea and cookies is way more fun than walking, sweating and wondering if you used enough sunscreen to prevent wrinkles.
On the upside, it’s also the easiest way to burn a few calories. How many calories?
Glad you asked.
It depends. If you’re strolling along with a dog that likes to pee on every flower he sees, probably not a lot.
If you’re pushing it, walking briskly and maybe doing a few intervals you can burn a considerable amount. Ditto for walking up hills.
Also check out: 5 Ways To Burn More Calories Walking
Compare these calorie burns, each for 30 minutes for a 150-lb. woman:
(As a baseline, sitting quietly watching Game of Thrones burns 36 calories per 30 minutes, with a slight bump-up when someone gets killed.)
Walking at 3.0 mph, fairly slow, on a firm surface 118 calories
…3.5 mph, moderate pace 136
…3.5 mph, moderate pace, up hill 215
…4.0 mph, brisk pace, firm surface 179
…4.5 mph, very brisk pace (nearly jogging) 226
…walking uphill carrying a 0 – 9 lb. load 251
As you can see, pace, incline and adding weight (which I only recommend if you’re completely free of any joint issues – and in the form of a weighted vest, not dumbbells) boosts calorie burn considerably.
With this in mind, the following workouts can help you get more from your time on the road – or treadmill – try ‘em!
1. On The Up and Up
Start off with a 5-minute easy walking warm-up. Then gradually either increase your speed or incline (easiest if you’re on a treadmill) every 4 minutes. Begin at an easy pace and pick it up to a moderate effort for 4 minutes, then harder for 4 minutes and – if you can do it – jog for 4 minutes and then go back to an easy pace. Repeat for a total of 20 to 30 minutes or so; cool down with a slow walk for 5 minutes or more. If you’re just starting out keep the increases smaller until you get fitter.
2. Walk Sprint
After a thorough warm-up of 5 or so minutes, walk as fast as you can for 20 – 30 seconds followed by 1 minute of easy walking (more or less depending on your fitness level – if you need more recovery time listen to you body!); repeat 4 to 6 times or as much as you can do. Cool down with easy walking and stretching.
3. Mix It Up
If you don’t mind a few stares, try this one, which weaves simple exercises into your walk: Warm up with a light stride for 5 minutes to start. Then:
Pick up the pace for 5 minutes
Slow down and do walking lunges 20x
Resume walking at a slow-moderate pace for 3 minutes
Pick up the pace for 2 minutes
Slow down and side shuffle for 10x each side
Resume moderate-slow pace 3 minutes
Pick up pace for 2 minutes (as fast as you can walk or jog)
Slow down to moderate pace, then slow
–OR repeat the sequence at this point.
Do 15 squats
Follow with 15 calf raises (go up on your toes and down by dropping your heels down off a ledge and up)
Stretch and cool down
Which ones will you try this week? Or do you have a different favorite way to up the ante on your walking workout?
Please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you… and of course, also share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
BREAKING NEWS: If you like these workouts and want more, stay tuned for my soon-to-be-released Ageless Body Monthly subscription!
Linda, Your Ageless Body Coach