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By The One on One Team

With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air! A long, purposeful walk is great for improving your health, aerobic fitness, relieving stress, clearing the mind, and taking time for yourself (like listening to a favorite podcast!). By being intentional about gait, pace, and overall intensity, you can get more out of your walk! Though the intensity of walking is likely not enough to be considered formal exercise for many of us, it is a great way to increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

Try a few of these fun ideas to make your walk more purposeful:

Pace Intervals

It’s common sense that picking up the pace will increase the intensity of your walk, but it may lack the variety to keep you engaged. A great way to have fun with adjusting speed is to perform pace intervals! For example, when walking on the road, you can adjust your pace after each house you pass. Three paces to alternate between are:

  1. Comfortable walking speed (3/10 intensity)
  2. Quickened pace (4-5/10 intensity)
  3. Speed walk (6-7/10 intensity).

Pay attention to your gait

Proper form increases muscle activation and reduces the impact on your joints. When stepping, roll through your foot heel to toe, and push off strong through the ball of your foot. This increases activation of the calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Another strategy is to move your arms! Not only does swinging your arms help you to walk faster, but it also incorporates the upper body and the abdominals.

Embrace the hills

Hills are a joint-friendly way to increase intensity and muscular strength. If you live in Central Pennsylvania, it won’t be hard to find some hills! Plan walks that include some climbs to get more variety.

Be creative

Put some pep in your step…or lunges, squats, and push-ups! Elevate your heart rate and target specific muscle groups by adding body weight exercises to your walk. There is no right way to do this, but a few ideas are to do push-ups with hands elevated on a bench, lunge from mailbox to mailbox, or squat at the bottom of a hill.

Log your walks

Using trackers such as a Fitbit or the MapMyRun app are a great tool for tracking walking distance and pace. Add a fun twist by challenging yourself to walk a marathon (26.2 miles) in a month!

Remember, it is important to stretch and foam roll before and after walking. We recommend targeting calves, hip flexors, and thoracic spine with your stretching/foam rolling strategies. Check out the video below for examples of of proper foam rolling techniques.