How can I increase my walking workouts?

Walking has so many benefits, from lowering blood pressure and boosting energy to improving sleep and keeping bones healthy. But to reap these benefits, you need to progress in your workout. Start with a modest goal of 15 to 20 minutes about four times a week. Then gradually, perhaps every week, add five minutes to the brisk part of your walk (past the warm-up and before the cool-down). For optimal fitness, you should exercise at this brisk pace for a minimum of 20 minutes, four times a week. If you have 30 minutes or more for the brisk part of your walk, try to increase your distance within the same time frame. If you miss a workout day, take advantage of opportunities to exercise, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator at work, or park farther from the entrance to a store.

You can increase you walking workouts by increasing the time or distance or resistance of your walks.

For example if you walk on flat terrain for 30 minutes then try walking on a hill terrain for that same thirty minutes and feel the difference.  If you walk on a hill terrain for thirty minutes then try adding some weights in your hands or on your feet while your walking for that same thirty minutes.

You can switch up your workouts like this so that you do not become bored or accustomed to the workout.  Each thing that you do differently challenges your body in a different way.

Some ways to increase your walking workouts would be to add resistance exercises along the way.  To start chose one of these four movements and progress to eventually have all four. First, add a body weight squat.  After walking a certain distance, we will say 1/4 of a mile, add 20 squats, and do 20 more for each 1/4 mile.  If you are walking 5 miles then squats every 1/4 mile might be a little much so vary it depending on the length of your walk. 

Another exercise will be a walking lunge.  The same can be completed as previous mentioned, walking for a certain distance, then add walking lunges.  A quick description of how to properly complete a lunge:  step forward, a little longer than your typical step, bend and both your front and back knee, keep your weight equally distributed and be sure to sit tall, bend towards ground without having your back knee touch the ground, return to top, walk forward and proceed forward with other leg. 

Your third exercise will be adding push-ups.  These can be added the same as the previous two.  Lastly, add a pull-up.  You may or may not have access to something that will allow you to do pull-ups, such as a tree branch.  If you have not access then a pull-up may not be possible but if you do then these will be great exercises to add.  Be sure to choose one exercise for one walk and another for the next.  Eventually, you should be able to add all exercises to add a complete full body workout in addition to your walks.

You can increase your walking workouts by finding more ways to incorporate walking into your everyday life and by adding variety. Planning for inclement weather can also help you keep on track with your walking routine.
Try these tips to keep moving:
  • Wear a pedometer. See how many steps you typically walk each day and aim to walk more, with a goal of 10,000 steps, or about 5 miles, if you’re able.
  • Bring a friend and take a walk and talk. Being social surely makes fitness more fun!
  • Walk your dog or even your kids at the same time every day and let their excitement - and expectations - motivate you!
  • Plan a family hike on a nature trail near you.
  • Hit the beach! Walking in the sand makes you work harder. Or if you’re not near a beach, walk outside instead of using a treadmill.
  • On bad weather days, or if you don’t like walking outside, find a gym you like and walk on a treadmill or find a mall where you can walk.
Remember to consult your doctor if you are beginning a physical fitness program or increasing the intensity of an existing program. Your doctor can guide you on safe exercise levels based on your medical history, current fitness level, and physical fitness goals.

It’s all about rate of progression. Start slow and gradually increase your walking speed over time. Do not try to go too fast initially or you’ll burn yourself out. Set a predetermined distance and every time you walk try to beat your time by 30 seconds to one minute. As you keep challenging yourself, your pace will quicken.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.