High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be one of the best forms of exercise in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency. It involves brief periods of intense activity followed by periods of rest. Ordinary walking does not qualify as a high-intensity workout, but it can be tweaked into one. For the last decade, Dr. Hiroshi Nose and colleagues at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, have developed walking programs for the elderly.
There are three phases to speeding up: start to use your toes in a more determined way, as if you’re kicking off the back wall of a swimming pool; then concentrate on your hip lift and hark, your glutes will propel you forward; finally, start to swing your arms, concentrating on the elbows – speeding up your arms will naturally make your walk faster.
Wear comfortable shoes. One sure way to lose interest in your walking workout is having sore feet. Take some time to get the right shoes. Your walking shoes need to fit your foot and the type of arch you have. Remember that your feet change over time. As you get older you may need more padding, more support, and more room, so have your feet measured regularly. It’s best to get your feet measured at the end of the day when your feet are larger; try on shoes with the socks you would wear for walking; and walk around for a while in the store before you buy.
And there’s more good news: walking burns calories! The exact numbers will depend on your weight. But if you walk briskly at about 6.4km per hour (4 miles per hour) for half an hour, you could use up around 150 calories. It’s probably equal to playing casual badminton for the same length of time. And it’s more than half the number of calories in the average chocolate bar!
Men and women who walk briskly for more than 30 minutes a day were found to have lower BMIs and smaller waists than everyone else involved in the study. 'Given the obesity epidemic, and the fact that a large proportion of people in the UK are inactive, recommending that people walk briskly more often is a cheap and easy policy option,’ said Dr Grace Lordon, who lead the research.
Bone density develops most quickly during childhood and adolescence, with peak bone mass reached sometime in the mid-20s or early 30s, depending on the person. At this point, osteoblasts slow the production of new bone cells, and bone-destroying osteoclasts continue at the same pace. What ends up occurring is that bone is broken down more quickly than it’s built up, resulting in its slow thinning. This thinning increases rapidly in women post-menopause, and seems to increase in men later in life.
Vary your walking workout to keep it interesting and you will also burn more calories. Incorporate a couple of inclines into your walking route. If you exercise on a treadmill, set it at a slope for part of the time. Walking more extreme inclines makes your workout more like hiking, which burns twice the amount of calories than walking on a flat route.
You got this. You started walking before you could speak in full sentences. Build your walking time and speed incrementally. Start with a 10- to 15-minute walk. Once that feels good, build up your time a few minutes for each outing. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember, at any speed, you're lapping everyone who is just sitting and thinking they should be exercising. Yes, walking is a real exercise.
Classes are generally rated as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Choose the level that fits your condition. It's no fun taking an advanced class if you're a beginner. It will be hard and frustrating and you won't enjoy the experience. Watch the class or speak with the instructor to help you decide what's right for you. Sometimes it comes down to the class time that fits your schedule, but just be sure to not get in too far over your head.
By paying just a little attention to your posture as you walk, you can help tone your abs and reduce your waistline. Concentrate on straightening your spine to create space between your ears and shoulders, relax your shoulders and pull in your stomach and pelvic floor. This helps your shoulders naturally rotate and works the abdominal muscles. And swinging your arms (backwards and forwards as you walk) faster not only increases your speed but also tones your arms, shoulders and upper back. So there’s a double benefit here, by thinking a little about how you walk you can improve your posture and get a better workout too!