Walks are a wonderful way to exercise while enjoying the fresh fall air—and if you want to add a challenge to your daily walk, try implementing some of the tips below.
Rather than walking at a steady pace, alternate between walking faster and slower. Implementing intervals can help improve your heart rate,1 and research has shown that adding high-intensity intervals to cardio exercises can improve aerobic capacity and blood sugar levels.2 You can adjust the length of either interval to suit your needs, walking faster for longer if you want a more intense workout, or giving yourself a longer slow period if you don’t want to overexert yourself.
Use Your Arms
By swinging your arms while you walk, your core and upper back muscles will be engaged, your heart rate will increase. It might even encourage you to walk faster!1,3
Add Bodyweight Exercises
For an even greater challenge, you can implement lower body exercises to any walk, such as lunges, side shuffles, and high knees. You can also pause at certain intervals (e.g., every block) to do squats, calf raises, or step-ups on the curb.1–3
Change Your Route
If you typically walk on a flat route, switch things up and try to add a hill to your routine. If you walk in a loop that has inclines, go in the opposite direction to get a different challenge. Consider changing your terrain as well—it’s more difficult to walk on grass or dirt than a sidewalk, and you will engage stabilizing muscles in your legs and torso.1,3 Just make sure you watch your step, as you might trip on more difficult or unfamiliar terrain.
Donning a backpack with some books or holding light hand weights while pumping your arms can both increase the intensity of your walk.1
With any exercise, don’t forget to warm up and cool down to help prevent injury. Lunges, heel drops, and walking at a slower pace for a few minutes is an example of a warm-up. For a cool down, walk at a slower pace for a few minutes, then stretch your upper and lower body.3
- Kulnis L. 6 ways to get more out of your daily walk. Virtua Health. Updated 12 Mar 2021. https://www.virtua.org/articles/6-ways-to-get-more-out-of-your-daily-walk. Accessed 15 Sep 2023.
- Mansour S. 5 ways to supersize your walk and turn it into a workout. CNN Health. 6 May 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/06/health/exercise-fitness-walking-workout-quarantine-coronavirus-wellness/index.html. Accessed 15 Sep 2023.
- Spilner M, McGinnis M, Jackson-Gibson A. How to make the most of your walking workout, per experts. Prevention. Updated 16 Dec 2020. https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/a20436692/how-to-increase-your-calories-burned-walking/. Accessed 15 Sep 2023.