So we are now a month into Change Your Life. Maybe you’re ready to increase the benefits of walking from last week. You can start by using your arms when you walk. The typical advice you hear is to swing your arms vigorously with each step, or to carry a small weight (two to five pounds) in each hand. For a walk around the neighborhood, these strategies will work fine to improve the cardiovascular benefits of walking, because they get the blood flowing through the arms and chest, in addition to the blood flow you’re already promoting in the lower body.
For more vigorous or challenging walking many people find that they prefer to have something with them to use for support and balance. As it turns out, using walking sticks or trekking poles can also improve your fitness level without any perceived increase in exertion. One study performed at James Madison University, showed that people who used walking poles while hiking over a variety of terrain improved their lung capacity and increased their heart rate (both indicators of cardiovascular health) and burned more calories while on the hike.
Also, rather than continuing on the same route every day, change the routine so you’re walking on inclines. Get off the path and walk on irregular, rougher ground. Walk up the hill and back down. Walk up and down the stairwells. Change your pace. Walk faster. Walk slower. Walk barefooted in the sand. Change shoes. Varying your route not only keeps a walking regimen mentally interesting for you but it also challenges you physically maximizing calorie burn and creates natural interval training.
Now It's Your Turn: What do you do to make your walks interesting?