Want your walking workouts to burn tons of calories, zap stress and create show-off-worthy legs – all while taking up less of your time? Around-the-block routine feeling a little ho-hum? These tips will help you graduate to fast-paced, invigorating power walking.
Hit the hills
Charge up a local hill, a staircase in a park or bleachers in a schoolyard. Do “repeats” if one single climb isn’t enough. To make hill training into a game, “Walk uphill 10 steps, downhill for five steps, up another 10 steps, then down for five, until you reach the top,” suggests Ottawa personal trainer Wendi Paterson.
Pick up your pace: speed up for 20 steps then walk easy for 10 steps. Repeat this three to six times, then go back to a moderate-pace walk, says Paterson.
Pump it up
Pumping your arms briskly at your sides is a simple way to speed up; it forces your feet to speed up to stay in sync with your arms. Push off strongly with your toes with each step to move even faster.
Put your heart into it
Wear a heart-rate monitor, and set the alarm to sound when your heart rate dips too low. Or record the time it takes to complete each of your routes, and try to shave off a minute or so each week.
Even if you’re not a fan of running, adding an occasional short running interval immediately jacks up the intensity. Take small steps to avoid tired legs, and wear running shoes and a sports bra. Get started by running across some or all of the intersections on your route.
But leave the weight behind
Carrying hand weights or strapping on ankle weights puts too much stress on your joints, says the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Research also shows that it has an insignificant effect on the number of calories burned.