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Rev up your walking routine: 6 ways to up the intensity

Have you found yourself in a walking rut? Get excited and moving again with these fresh ways to shake up your routine

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1. Take the telephone pole challenge
Choose a number, says Gina Sherrington, a personal trainer for 360° Wellness and Fitness in Nova Scotia. “Say to yourself, ‘Today I’m going to walk 20 telephone pole lengths.’” Then, make it into a challenge. At the first telephone pole, walk at a normal speed but once you hit the next, go as fast as you can. It’s excellent interval training, cheap and gives walkers a concrete goal.

2. Catch up on your reading
Get wrapped up in an audio book. “It’s easy to shut off a song,” says Sherrington. “Songs are two or three minutes so you can say, ‘Okay, I’ll walk to the end of this song and turn it off.’ But when you walk to the end of a chapter, it takes you much longer.”

3. Pick a destination with a reward
Walk instead of driving to the store to earn that new pair of shoes, says Shanny Nichols, a personal trainer for Precision Athletics in Vancouver. Or, walk to the market to pick up fresh ingredients for a lunch recipe. (Don’t forget your reusable grocery bag.)

4. Move to the beat
Alternate an upbeat song with a slower song on your mp3 player for walking intervals, says Nichols. When the upbeat song is playing, speed walk. During the slower song, take it easy and enjoy the scenery. Even without the tempo switch, studies show that walkers who listen to music lose more weight because they stay motivated for longer. Keep your head bobbing and a healthy body should be within reach.

5. Take the road less travelled
Mix it up. Adding hills to your regular walking routine will shock your muscles into working harder and burning more calories, says Nichols. Find a small hill or a set of stairs in a park and climb them. She recommends walkers do three sets of climbs every 15 minutes.

6. Walk for a cause
Signing up for a charity walk in the fall can be a great motivator to keep you walking throughout summertime. And you’ll reap the rewards: Not only will you be helping a good cause, but your motivation will stay high as you work towards achieving your best possible time.