Walking is seriously underrated in terms of its benefits as an exercise. Oftentimes we feel as though we must get drenched in sweat to be burning those calories off when in reality, walking really can do wonders to help you burn calories. Don’t get us wrong, cycling, running and all of those intense cardio activities are wonderful. But maybe you don’t always have time to hit the gym or go for a full-blown run.
Sometimes, fitting in a couple of walks can feel a lot more doable.
Fortunately, research supports the benefits of walking. A study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that those who stuck with a walking program had significant improvements in blood pressure, reduction of body fat and body weight and overall better quality of life.
To help you burn more calories, we’ve rounded up eight easy tips for your walking workout.
1. Walk on an incline, a hill or stairs.
Going up? Walking on a treadmill that is tilted at an incline, walking up a hill outside or even walking on stairs can all increase the intensity of your workout. This means you’ll burn more calories than walking on level ground. It may also be better for your health. One study, published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, has shown that uphill walking can help your body metabolize both glucose and lipids, which means it might be beneficial for “the prevention of type 2 diabetes and disorders in lipid metabolism.”
2. Use an activity tracker or step counter to stay motivated.
Wearing a watch or a device that provides activity tracking capabilities and/or step counting can help motivate you to walk longer or faster. Without any sense of how far you’ve walked or how many calories you’ve burned, it can be easy to “quit early.” But if you see that you’re just a few tenths away from the next mile—or that you’re incredibly close to meeting your daily step goal—it can push you to go a little bit longer. That kind of motivation can pay off in terms of your results.
3. Listen to tunes.
Did you know that music can have an impact on your weight loss goals? A study, published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, found that listening to music led to a 28 percent increase in activity enjoyment. That can equate to walking for longer—and burning more calories. People also commonly report that music helps them increase the speed and intensity of their work. It puts a little zip in your step!
4. Walk with a pal.
While music can motivate the solo walker, having a friend to talk to can also be motivating. Research carried out by Virgin Active Health Clubs found that exercising with a friend can burn more calories than working out alone. The reason may be that chatting with a good pal is distracting and helps you go further. When friends walk together, they also pace one another. You might be motivated to walk faster than you would alone.
5. Make sure you have the right shoes.
A good pair of walking shoes really can make all the difference in the world when it comes to inspiration to go further. If you’ve ever walked a long distance in unsupportive shoes, then you know how much your feet started to hurt. But when you have footwear that is comfortable and provides good shock absorption, you can walk longer and faster—and torch more calories as a result.
6. Move your arms as you walk—and pick up the pace.
Adding arm movement during your walk can help you to go faster. It can turn a regular walk into a power walk—and that can help increase your burn. Research, published in Nature Medicine, found that the intensity of an activity can be more important than its duration. In other words, a shorter power walk can be more calorie-smashing than a long and leisurely stroll.
7. Take a hike!
Instead of walking around your neighborhood or town, why not drive to a local trail and take a hike? Hiking on uneven ground and different terrains can activate different muscles than you’re used to using on flat surfaces. You’ll be strengthening muscles in the knees, hips and ankles—areas that don’t usually get much use. The changes in terrain typically mean more calories burned, too.
8. Incorporate interval training into your walking program.
If you’ve ever participated in an interval run, then you know it incorporates short bursts of sprinting into your jog. You can do the same thing walking by increasing the intensity to a power walk at each interval. The idea is to keep the interval short enough that you won’t get completely exhausted and can keep going. This can help you burn more calories while walking.