Going to the gym for hours every day isn’t the only way to get healthy and fit. Moderate and consistent physical activity, such as walking daily, can increase your fitness level and improve your physical and mental health.
Sometimes it’s nice to go for a casual stroll and enjoy the scenery and fresh air. But it’s also easy to turn your walk into a workout and get some additional health benefits.
Change Your Mindset
If you think of your walk as “just a walk,” you’ll probably only put in the minimal amount of effort. If, however, you think of your walk as a “workout,” that small bit of effort will likely become grander and more challenging.
Speed up your walk so that you’re covering the same distance in less time. A faster pace can raise your heart rate and better challenge your cardiovascular system, and increase the amount of energy you burn. You could even try jogging or sprinting for a brief period of time to get a super workout.
Go Farther and Longer
If you make your walk a longer distance and duration, you’ll burn more calories. In this study, people who walked two or more hours each day showed a significantly lowered risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who walked less or not at all, suggesting that long walks may even help you live longer.
Listening to music while you walk can make your workout more enjoyable and make it easier to pass the time. You might even end up going farther without noticing the extra effort.
Hills and Stairs
Instead of walking on a treadmill or a track, try walking outside. You could also use your walk as a chance to explore new areas: incorporate hills, stairs, or other terrain variations for an added challenge. Hikes on wilderness trails are an excellent way to get in shape, enjoy the scenery, and spend time with friends or family.
Walking in Groups
Walking with friends is a great way to stay motivated. You can motivate each other, chat during your workout, and support each other in sticking with healthy habits. In addition to being beneficial for physical health, group exercise also facilitates social bonding and emotional well-being.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you’re bored with your walking routine, try something new to spice it up. You can even make up your workout routines or challenge yourself in other ways. Discover new stretches to try before and after your walk. Add some wrist weights or carry your groceries. Take a break in a scenic area and mix in some pushups, jumping jacks, or other exercises.
Be careful with pushing yourself too hard, though. Take things slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time to avoid injuries and decreased motivation.