Walking has quickly become the workout of the moment. With gyms closed and at-home workouts the new norm, a walking workout not only one of the best ways to get some fresh air while social distancing (something even experts recommend, as long as you abide by the six-feet-apart rule), but it also can give you a heart-pounding workout if you use a handful of trainer-approved tweaks.
Walking at a regular pace provides both mental and physical benefits, but there are plenty of different ways you can make it more challenging. From bringing along some weights to hitting up your neighborhood hills, these easy upgrades make a true workout out of your daily walking ritual.
The best trainer-approved ways to upgrade your daily walks
1. Seek out hills
When you’re planning out your walk, venture toward an area you know has some hills. “Finding a hill and power-walking up it is the perfect way to fire up your glutes. Then, you can do a lower recovery walk on the way down,” says Jen Tallman, a personal trainer and fitness instructor in New York City. “Think about squeezing your glutes and keeping the weight in your heels.”
2. Incorporate HIIT
One instant way to turn your walk into a workout is to alternate between bursts of speed and bursts of recovery. “Walking is an excellent form of cardio if you do it with intensity and intention,” says John Thornhill, a master trainer at Aaptiv. “A casual stroll in the neighborhood may not make you sweat or spike your heart rate, but if you incorporate HIIT into your walking routine, you can get more out of it.”
3. Add some weight
Carrying some weight on your back turns an evening constitutional into a full-on workout. “If you have a backpack on hand, fill it with things you can find around your house like books or cans of food,” says Tallman. “Carrying an extra load on your walk will automatically make you breathe harder. Just make sure to keep your core engaged.”
4. Try a guided workout
There are numerous different guided walking workouts available, all of which not only make your walk more fun, but also make you sweat a little harder, Thornhill says. You can choose from options on Peloton Digital, Aaptiv, YouTube, and more.
5. Take the stairs
Tallman says there’s no need to run the stairs. Even walking them gets your heart rate up, taking your workout to the next level. “Take a few big steps and alternate with regular steps, making sure to land your entire foot on each step to fire up the glutes,” she says.
6. Bring along dumbbells
Instead of wearing weight in a backpack, you could bring along some dumbbells. “You can spice up your walking routine by adding small dumbbells—anywhere from two to 10 pounds—and incorporate upper body movements like bicep curls and shoulder presses as you walk,” says Thornhill.
7. Add in lunges
Another simple way to boost your walk is to add in walking lunges. “Walk for five minutes at a fast pace, then throw in one minute of walking lunges. Repeat as many times as you can,” Tallman says. By the time you get home, your entire body will be feeling the burn in the best way.
This quick warm-up for runners can’t hurt before your walking workout:
These are the stretches experts say you should do before your walking workouts. Then find out how meditating during your walks can be beneficial, and exactly how to do it.