How to Turn Your Walk into a Workout

What's the least expensive and most convenient way to get a total workout? Lace up your sneakers and walk out the door. Turning your walk into a workout is easy.  Just follow these steps:

1) Get the right gear:

  • Good quality walking shoes
  • Your iPod or MP3 player
  • A portable, stretchy resistance band (put it in your pocket or drape it over your shoulders)
  • A paved walking route or path that includes hills and steps

2) Start out easy:

  • Warm up by walking for five minutes at a gentle pace and get your muscles ready to work.
  • Do some gentle leg stretches after you've warmed up, just to loosen up muscles and ligaments and prevent injury. Take it easy, though. Save the big stretch for the end of your workout.

3) Pick up the pace:

Studies show that walking at varied paces (interval training) maximizes fat burning.

  • Pop in your earbuds, choose a song with a fast beat and walk at a fast clip until the song is over (or for three to five minutes). Get your heart rate pumping and walk fast enough that talking is a challenge, but not impossible.
  • Slow down to a moderate (not too slow) pace for a song (two or three minutes) then pick the pace back up.
  • Continue these fast-moderate intervals for twenty minutes.

4) Add some altitude and resistance:

Walk to the park, an outdoor staircase, or a set of bleachers.

  • Climb the playground equipment, stairs, or bleachers at a fast pace for five minutes.
  • Find a level, solid space and pull out the resistance band.
    • Step on one end, grab hold of the other, and do 12 bicep curls on each arm
    • Loop the band around your upper back (just below your armpits) and grab hold with both hands close to your chest. Pull forward until you can straighten your arms. Repeat 12 times
    • Leave the band looped behind your back and continue holding with both hands near your chest. Pull up until you can straighten arms overhead. Repeat 12 times.
    • Loop band around ankles with feet close together. Tie the band (not too tight) and lift one leg at a time out front, to the side and to the back. Repeat each move 12 times.

5) Finish with a cool-down

  • Walk at a moderate to gentle pace for five minutes.
  • Stretch each muscle involved in your workout from head to toe. Hold each stretch for a slow count of ten to twenty seconds.

Alternate this "workout walk" with walking days that don't involve interval training and resistance band exercises.  Set a moderate pace and walk for thirty to forty-five minutes. Aim for five walks per week—three "workout walks" and two moderate walks.  Don't forget to stretch after every walk.