While the past few years have seen people jump on board new fitness trends and innovative workouts like hybrid spin classes, meditation apps, and lunchtime HIIT sessions—there’s a surprising fitness trend that’s making a comeback…
Once considered more of a recreation sport, walking is proving that your workout doesn’t have to be complicated (or vigorous) to deliver mind and body benefits. And during a time when “social distancing” is the general advice, taking a brisk daily walk still garners a clear mind, increased muscle strength, and goes a long way to boosting your physical endurance.
Here’s how to get your wellness fix, walk your way to health (while keeping your social distance) and make the most of this low-impact, low-risk, and widely accessible form of movement:
Warm Up With an Easy Pace
The best way to warm up is to simply begin walking at an easy pace for the first few minutes and then gradually start to increase your speed to “brisk”. You might be puffing slightly and you can still talk but not sing (sorry). Wait until after your walk to stretch.
Walk for at Least 30-Minutes
Just 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance.
Get Your Technique Right (AKA Your Fitness Stride)
We like to think of your walking technique as your “fitness stride”—make sure your head is up (no texting!), your core is switched on, your neck, shoulders, and back muscles are relaxed and you’re swinging your arms naturally. Sure you can go for a stroll, but striding with intention will deliver a more purposeful workout result.
Cool Down & Stretch Afterwards
At the end of your walk, begin your warm-down by reducing the pace of your walk five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down. Then gently stretch your leg muscles—particularly your calves and front and back thighs. Stretches should be held for a minimum of 20-seconds and somewhere between 35 and 45 seconds.
Try Brisk Intervals & Keep It Interesting
Walk at different times of the day from sunrise to sunset and anything in between to keep the experience fresh. Consider doing a walking meditation, take the dog, listen to your favorite uplifting podcast, pick a different route, throw in some hills, and try “brisk intervals”: burn more calories by walking one block fast, two blocks slow or throw in some stairs for some extra toning.
While you might not be able to hit the gym or join your favorite exercise class right now, walking is a simple, relaxing, and effective way to think, feel, and even sleep better. Not only will you increase your strength and stamina, but you’ll be able to support your mental and emotional wellbeing at a time when you need it most.