6 Ways to Get More Out of Your Daily Walk - Virtua Health, NJ

6 Ways to Get More Out of Your Daily Walk

By Lisa Kulnis, Fitness Manager—Virtua William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness

Have you been getting out every day for a walk, but feel ready to step it up with new challenges or change it up with some variety? Here are a few ideas to help you go from a neighborhood stroll to a calorie-burning walk that can help you increase your strength, too.

Track your steps from your walk. 
Keep track of your number of steps to help you challenge yourself. See how many steps you do in your regular stroll, and then make sure you reach or exceed that number with each walk. To challenge yourself, set a goal to add 500 steps to each walk for that week. Tracking progress helps ensure you’re making improvements.

Step up your pace.
Once you’re making progress on your step goal, try to challenge yourself to do the same number of steps in less time. Add intervals to your walking pace to increase your heart rate and burn more calories. Try going faster for a minute at a time. Or, go faster for a set distance such as from one telephone pole to the next.

Use your arms.
You don’t need to carry weights in your hands to increase your calorie burn. As you’re walking, swing your arms the way a runner does. This helps increase your heart rate and gets more muscles involved.

Change your walking path.
You may be limited to where you can walk right now. But, even if you go in the opposite direction on your stroll, you’ll get a different type of workout by walking up that hill instead of down. If it’s possible, take your walk on different type of terrain. It’s more challenging to walk on a dirt path rather then on a flat sidewalk. Or, drive to a neighborhood that has more hills if your normal path is flat.

Add weight.
If you’ve been walking for a while and you’re ready to challenge yourself, pack a backpack with some light books, and carry that on your back as you walk. Adding more bodyweight to your walk helps you burn some extra calories.

Add strength exercises.

  • Try walking with high knees for 30-60 seconds at a time. Raise your knees to a 90-degree angle as you take steps and increase your speed.
  • Add walking lunges—take a large step with your right leg and lower your left leg until your knee is a few inches from the ground, push up, and repeat with the opposite side. Do 10-20 reps.
  • Take a break from walking and do some calf raises. Stand flat on the ground and raise your heels until you’re on the balls of your feet, lower, and repeat. For more of a challenge, do the calf raises on a curb so your heels drop below the level of the curb. Do 10-20 reps.
  • Do a step up using the curb. Place your left foot on the curb and step up, driving your right knee up and then lowering back down. Do 10-20 reps then switch to the other side. You can challenge yourself by doing this every time you cross a street or by doing it faster to raise your heart rate.

Ease into one new challenge at a time but always exercise within your own limits. Stay safe and enjoy your walk—and your progress. 

Updated May 5, 2020

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