Get ready, because I’m about to take away a couple more excuses not to work out! I know, you don’t have time to work out. And yes, gym memberships can be pricey -- I do know how expensive it is having kids! Oh, you hate running? Yeah, believe it or not, I hear that a lot.
So, let me reintroduce you to the easiest, most accessible workout in the world: WALKING. What’s that? It’s not sexy enough? Who cares? The only thing that matters is you’ll be sexier once you start getting your walking workout done. Seriously.
The secret is making sure your walk becomes a real workout rather than just a leisurely stroll. Here’s how you do that:
In order to make any cardio workout more of a calorie burner, you need to do one of two things: Either increase the time or increase the intensity. The time part is easy -- even if you think you don’t have time to spare, remember, short periods spent exercising do add up. So, while you may not have a one-hour period free for a workout, you might have 15 minutes at lunchtime, or you could squeeze in an extra 10 minutes before work and walk part of the way to your office. Start a family tradition of taking a short walk either before or after dinner, so the kids can get active, too. If you can make a commitment to yourself to set aside a specific time for you to get a workout in, then start adding a few minutes at a time onto your current walking route.
Adding intensity is what might seem counterintuitive when you think about walking. It gets such a bad rap as an easy, undemanding workout! But, just like most things in life, you get back what you put into it. One way to increase the intensity on your walk is by incorporating hills. Either select a particularly hilly route or steal a trick from runners and do walking hill repeats. Pick one hill, walk up it, turn around, and yup, you guessed it, repeat! Try timing your walk up the hill, and aim to decrease your time for each repeat. Stairs will do the trick just as well as hills -- don’t bypass the staircase, you can utilize it to get a great butt!
You can also simply increase your speed to boost the intensity of your walking workout. It’s easy to let a walk turn into a wander, so really focus on your body. Get your breathing into a rhythm, make sure your shoulders are pulled back, and you’re looking slightly ahead rather than down at your feet. Experiment with trying longer strides or short, fast steps. To make a game out of it, pick a point in the distance and challenge yourself to walk to it as fast as you can.
If you want to break up your workout a little, you can even incorporate some resistance training into your daily walk. If you haven’t checked out my slideshow of "7 Perfect Exercises You Can Do Using Only a Park Bench," then it’s a great place to start. You could also throw in some walking lunges or step-ups on the curb.
The best thing about using walking as your primary cardio is that you can be a total beginner exerciser or really fit and still get a good workout from walking. And you’ve heard it before, but you really can get this done anywhere for free and incorporate it into your daily routine and errands, taking away your time and money excuses. (Sorry!)
What are you waiting for? Get out there and walk! Challenge yourself to make it into a great workout.
Do you walk to work out?
Image via Carly Pizzani