Commute your way to fitness with one of the easiest workout wins. You’re welcome!
No time for the gym? No sweat. Walking can be done any time, any place, anywhere, and doesn’t require spendy kit (although you can TOTALLY justify buying some workout wear if you want to).
A university study found just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by 8 per cent; squeeze in 40 minutes and this could drop by 20 per cent.
Low-impact fitness is unlikely to cause injury to bones and joints, and can be tailored to any fitness level, and you’ve pretty much got the most perfect form of exercise right there! But let’s see if we can make it work a little bit harder for you…
Good posture and technique will maximise the health benefits of walking and avoid muscle soreness or injury. Stand straight and imagine a string is pulling you upwards, keeping your neck in line to reduce pressure on your spine. Activate your core, and keep your pelvis in a neutral position to reduce the risk of overloading your hip joints.
Time to go faster
Gentle walking’s a great place to start, but if you want to get fitter or lose weight, you’ll need to ramp up the tempo. A study found that people who tend to walk more slowly are at a higher risk of heart disease. Brisk walking gets your heart pumping, which will work your cardio system and muscles harder, increasing calorie burn.
Try alternating two minutes of easy walking with two minutes of brisk walking for a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercise session to strengthen your cardio system.
In the mix
Taking the SAME walking route EVERY day can get a bit boring, so mix it up a bit. Explore different routes and see if you can add inclines or hills to increase heart-rate, tone muscles and burn significantly more calories.
It’s better with friends
Walking’s a great social activity and walking with a friend or in a group is an excellent way to stay motivated. A study found that walking outdoors with a group helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and depression.
Crank up the tunes
Listening to upbeat music while you exercise helps you walk at a quicker pace for longer. Cyclists exercised faster and for more time on a stationary bike when the tempo of music increased by 10 per cent. Create a walking playlist with an upbeat tempo to supercharge your walk to work.
The weight of it all
Swinging your arms by bending at the elbow (around 90 degrees) while you walk helps mobility in your spine and will propel you forwards. Carrying small hand-weights helps build muscle tone in your arms or swap a shoulder bag for a well-fitted walking backpack to work core muscles without straining your back.
Targets and goals
Setting yourself a walking goal is a good way to stay motivated. This could be a short-term fitness target, such as walking to work twice a week, or a long-term goal such as weight-loss or a long-distance walking event. Walking apps, such as MapMyWalk can help track your progress or a wearable device, such as a Fitbit, will measure your step and distance count each time.