How to make walking more of a workout

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A few simple changes can help make your walk even more effective.
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If you’re working out at home and avoiding the gym until the COVID-19 pandemic passes, you know that daily walks can be a huge relief in the midst of pandemic lockdowns. Getting outside to get fresh air, step away from your work and your computer, and move your body has huge benefits for your body and mind.  Walking is a great exercise by itself, no doubt. But if you’re looking for ways to maximize your time while you walk to get more of an intense workout, you can do that with just a bit of creativity. If your walk is more of a relaxing or leisurely stroll where you unwind, by all means, keep it that way. But if you’re not pressing play on those workout videos you meant to do, why not take the time you’re already using to move to work even more muscles?

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CJ Hammond, XPS certified trainer with RSP Nutrition, shows you how to shake up your daily walk and get an even better workout below. “Walking can help to improve your cardiovascular endurance and maintain a healthy heart. Walking every day will improve lower-body strength and help lower your blood pressure,” says Hammond. The benefits from walking alone are enough to motivate anyone to walk each day. If that’s already a habit for you, add to your daily workout with these tips to help you burn more calories and strengthen more muscles. Read more: The best walking shoes for men and best walking shoes for women. gettyimages-531695491Light hand-held dumbbells can add extra resistance to your upper body when you walk.
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Be smart with your warmup 

You may not think you need to warm up before a walk, but according to Hammond, a warmup is a great time to prep your body for your walk, and any other exercises you add in. “These warmups will allow you to demand a little bit more from your body,” says Hammond. “A great way to warm up the body before walking is to do a couple of core exercises that will help to improve lower back and upper body mobility. Standing core exercises will help to improve balance and dynamic stability,” Hammond says. Try the exercise below before your next walk.

Standing core exercise 

  • Stand upright, put your hands behind your head intertwined and balance on your left leg 
  • Bring your right knee and right elbow to touch
  • Repeat and alternate between each side for 60 seconds — that’s one set. When doing a standing crunch, do three to five sets.

Superman exercise

“This will warm up the hips and the spine and improve the internal temperature which will help to prevent injury and strengthen the heart,” Hammond says. It also targets the core and helps activate the glutes, as well as help improve shoulder mobility.

  • Start in a prone position (lay on your stomach) and do two to four sets of 25 supermans.

Check out the video below for the full instructions on proper form:

Add weights

Walking usually only demands work from your lower body. So why not challenge your upper body at the same time? If you have light dumbbells (one to three pounds) try carrying those with you while you walk.  It may not sound like much of a challenge, but you’d be surprised the difference even a small amount of weight can make. You can also add resistance by strapping on wrist weights, which can be convenient since they’ll leave your hands free.

Add exercises at milestones 

“Adding exercises throughout your daily walk can help to break up the monotony but also improve on the calories burned during the workout,” Hammond says. The options are really endless here, but all you have to do is pick some type of milestone (say every three blocks, or every half mile) and add an exercise or a combination of exercises. You can start with basic exercises like pushups, planks and sit ups. gettyimages-1147342163Adding push ups to your walk is one way to add a challenge.
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“Every three blocks you walk you can add 15 air squats, a seated bench dip or a 60-second jog for every five minutes you walk. With adding some of the strength exercises and an intermediate burst of speed your body will adapt and this will allow you to increase reps with strength training and the pace when walking,” Hammond says.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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