Going for a daily walk can be one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule. And it’s also a great way to burn calories and lose weight! But we know what you’re thinking: Walking? Really? Will walking really help that much?
Well, any amount of exercise, beyond what you would normally do, is a good way to boost your metabolism and shed pounds. But you’re also right; a casual stroll won’t burn nearly as many calories as a higher-impact, sweaty exercise routine that leaves you breathless.
Luckily, there is a middle ground. Try these four ways to tweak your daily walks, add a bit of difficulty to your favorite exercise, and burn even more calories.
Add bursts of speed. A burst of high-speed walking (or even jogging) will boost your heart rate even if you don’t maintain that speed for long. Alternate your comfortable pace with short segments of speed, during which you challenge yourself a bit more.
Choose a hilly route. Walking uphill requires more energy than strolling on flat ground. Choose a route with several hills, and the extra exertion will increase your calorie burn.
Weigh yourself down. Carrying light hand weights, weighing just 1 to 3 pounds, can increase your heart rate by 5 to 10 beats per minute. This will translate into a 5 to 15 percent boost in calories burned. Or, you can strap on some ankle weights if you prefer. If you have a baby or toddler, pushing a heavy stroller is another way to add resistance to your workout. Some people even wear a weighted backpack! Just don’t go too heavy on those weights, since they can strain your back.
Make it a whole-body workout. Pump your arms hard as you walk, or pick up a pair of walking poles. Even a pair of old ski poles will work just fine. Nordic walking has been shown to burn up to 67 percent more calories more than regular walking, making it a great choice if you want to reap more from your workout time.
As always, schedule an appointment with us before you begin a new exercise program. We can examine you to make sure your plans are safe, and help you with your weight loss plan.