Wellworks For You health experts share the secrets to getting the most out of walking for exercise.
It’s no secret that walking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your overall health. It costs you nothing, requires no fancy equipment, and can even be done on your lunchbreak! However, there are better ways to go about walking for exercise. If you really want to optimize your activity to maximize its health benefits, a few adjustments can make a huge difference. At Wellworks For You, we’re here to share ideas to get you started!
- Pick Up The Pace. A recent study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that that “there is a significant health benefit to pursuing a faster pace” while walking. Although walking at a slower pace is still worthwhile exercise, pushing your body appears to cause beneficial physiological changes that do not occur at the milder pace. Challenge yourself to complete your usual route in just a little less time than usual, or try for a further distance on your lunch break.
- Monitor For Intensity. For a more intentional way to increase the intensity–and thus the health benefits–of your walking for exercise, start with a little self-monitoring. When you exercise at a target heart rate–70% to 75% of your maximum heart rate is recommended for beginners–you can be sure you are getting the intensity your body needs to reap the full benefits of your walk.
If you don’t have a heart monitor, a simple “talking test” will also work. While walking, see what talking is comfortable. If you can hold a full conversation–or even sing–you will want to step up the pace; if you’re gasping for air, slow down. The ideal aerobic zone usually allows you to chat briefly.
- Track Your Progress. Another way to increase the benefits of your walking is to track your progress and even set goals for greater distance. Wearing a pedometer can be a great way to add motivation; write down your total steps each day and try to do more the next day. Set the goal of reaching 10,000 steps each day. Or, you can link your pedometer to a virtual reality program, such as WellTrek from Wellworks For You, which can transform your walks around the neighborhood into virtual walking tours around the world!
- Swing Your Arms. You may only think of walking as a workout for your legs and core, but it can actually offer you a full body workout. Optimize your body’s natural tendency to swing your arms while walking by bending your arms at a 90 degree angle and swinging them back and forth, opposite the motion of your legs.
This will add power and speed to your exercise, instead of slowing you down as it would if you kept your arms straight at your side. Bending and swinging your arms can also help to prevent the uncomfortable swelling of the hands that many experience when keeping their arms straight.
- Add Adventure And Accountability. How do you think of your daily walks? Is walking for exercise simply a chore, or are you able to see its adventurous, and social, potential? Invite a friend to walk with you on a regular basis, and you’re sure to find yourself walking more often, and farther, with the motivation of a friend beside you. Or, change up the scenery and move your daily walk to a park or even a hike through the woods. Not only will you enjoy the many health benefits of being outdoors, but your walking intensity will get a boost through the varied terrain.
At Wellworks For You, we are excited to help individuals and workplaces optimize their walking for exercise. To learn more about our pedometer programs and other workplace wellness options, contact us today at 800.425.4657.
Walking For Exercise | Walk For Exercise