Don't just walk, train!

Step up your walking workout with these training tips borrowed from runners

If your walking routine has become, well, too routine, it’s time to mix things up. Always walking the same route at the same speed can become boring, not to mention too easy on your body, says Janice Burdon, a walking coach from Hudson, Que. So why not challenge your body with a program that includes a variety of walking speeds and routes. Changing up your routine will step up the calorie burning and muscle-toning benefits of your efforts. So how can you ensure that your walking is really getting you somewhere? Here are four sure-fire strategies.

Walk and Trot

If you’re keen on running, but only in small doses, try adding short running intervals to your walks. In an urban setting, run across each intersection you come across; in the country, run between every third and fourth telephone pole or other landmarks. If you’re going to try this, Burdon advises swapping your walking shoes for running shoes which are lighter, more flexible and provide more cushioning. To minimize the jiggle factor, you’ll also need a good sports bra.

Hills and Thrills

Head for the hills to up the excitement level – and the burn. As you climb, shorten your stride and pump your arms higher in front of you to help propel you forward and up, says Helen Jacques, a racewalking coach from Victoria. Lean forward about five degrees from the ankles, not the waist. Once a single climb feels easy, walk down the same hill, widening your stride if it’s steep, and back up it again. Or find a route that includes several different hills. If you live in a flat area, hoof it up a staircase in a park or bleachers at a school.

Long and Steady

Weekends are the ideal time for long, moderate-intensity workouts. Team up with a friend to help the time fly, or choose a destination – a coffee shop (for the washroom of course!), a beautiful scenic outlook or a special store. Wear headphones and listen to inspiring music or books on tape, or time your walk so you can enjoy a favourite radio program.

The Quick Step

Add some fun when you’re walking with a partner or in a group. Begin by moving into single file and walking at a moderate pace. The game begins when the walker at the back pulls out, speeds to the front of the line and resumes a moderate pace. The new walker at the back of the pack repeats the same drill. “It’s an excellent workout, especially if you have a habit of chatting and slowing down!” says Merike Poldma of Toronto.

Ready to switch things up? Try this walking schedule to continuously challenge your body.

Mon T Wed T Fri S Sun
Hills & Thrills Walk & Trot The Quick Step Long & Steady
Walk & Trot The Quick Step Hills & Thrills Long & Steady
The Quick Step Hills & Thrills Walk & Trot Long & Steady
Hills & Thrills Walk & Trot The Quick Step Long & Steady