If you’re looking to burn more calories during your walk and get an intense, cardio workout, you’re in luck! One of the reasons walking is so widely recommended for cardio is that it’s so versatile. You don’t need to start running to get the benefits of activity – weight loss from walking can be just as effective. Not everyone has an hour a day for walking, though. If that sounds like you, try one of these intense, calorie-burning forms of walking to maximize both the calories you burn and the health benefits you get from walking in the time you have available!
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One of the easiest ways to get more intense is by adding hills, or inclines, to your walks. Incline walking can increase the number of calories you burn walking by around 60%! A 155-pound walker walking at 3.5 mph would burn around 267 calories on a level surface, but up to 422 calories on an incline. Keep in mind, that’s assuming that you’re walking on an incline the entire time. Even if you find a very hilly area to walk through, you’ll be walking on a level surface some of the time. Adding in even one hill to your walk is a great way to vary things up and get a bit more intense. If you’re able to walk on a treadmill, however, you really can do your entire walking workout at an incline.
It is important to note that incline walking puts a greater strain on your knees and other joints. People with knee injuries or other problems may want to stick to a flat surface and find other ways to get more intense. Hiking on dirt, or walking on an uneven surface can put even more strain on joints, so make sure to build up your intensity gradually over time. Remember than walking down hills can also strain your joints, so make sure to keep up good walking posture and stay present during the incline portion of your walk.
The simple act of walking up or down stairs might be the most intense walking workout you can do. Walking stairs can nearly double your amount of calories burned compared to regular, brisk walking. Studies have also shown that 10 minutes of stair walking gives the equivalent of half a cup of coffee in energy. While that’s probably true of most forms of moderate-intensity exercise, researchers chose it because most office workers have access to a stairway that they can walk for 10 minutes on a break. If you’re feeling drowsy at the office, take a 5-minute break from sitting and walk up and down a few floors.
While stair walking can burn almost double the calories, it places higher impact on your knees and other joints. Don’t forget that walking down stairs is intense as well – not just walking up. If you’re already doing indoor walking in a mall or other area, take the stairs occasionally for an extra boost of calorie-burning intensity.
Interval training means mixing up periods of fast walking (or jogging) with slower walking to catch your breath and recover. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training can burn up to 30% more calories than jogging or biking. While walking is less intense than those activities, interval walking is a great alternative to regular fast walking. Unlike stairs or incline walking, you don’t need any special walking area to interval walk in.
Try this 15-minute interval walking workout or this 30-minute interval walking workout to get started. One of the great things about interval walking is that you’re constantly varying your speed, which can keep your walks fresh and interesting. You also don’t have to walk at a fast pace for your entire walking workout. Just walk very fast for 1 minute, then do a regular walk for 1-2 minutes (you can always change these windows as well). By the end, you’ll have burned more calories and got more steps than you think!
Power walking gets your upper body involved by swinging your arms in an exaggerated manner as you walk. Because your arm movement helps you walk faster and take longer strides, power walking generally done at a faster pace than even regular, brisk fitness walking. By increasing your pace from a regular brisk walking pace of 3.5 mph to a power walking pace of 4-4.5 mph, you might increase your calories burned by up to 50%!
Power walking also can help you engage your core muscles while walking. While that can’t specifically target belly fat, it can help to strengthen your core while you walk. Remember to bend your arms at less than a 90-degree angle, and keep your arms at your sides without swinging your arms across your body as you walk. You also don’t have to power walk during your entire walking workout – you can always use power walking during as part of your interval training by power walking for a stretch and then doing regular walking to recover.
Nordic walking involves using walking poles to get a more full-body walking workout. Studies have shown that Nordic walking burns around 15% more calories (up to 45% for some walkers). Using walking poles can also help you work out 80% of your body. Nordic walking is a great way for walkers to get in an upper body workout, especially if you don’t have time to do a bodyweight workout at home.
When walking with poles, walk at a natural pace with slightly longer strides due to the pole use. You should be using the pole opposite to each foot that strikes the ground (when stepping with your left foot, use the right pole and vice versa). Pole walking does require you buy walking poles, but there are cheap options available for beginners that won’t take a bite out of your wallet. You’ll probably want to stick to outdoor walking when Nordic walking so that you can really use the poles, though you can use them indoors in less crowded areas as well.
When in doubt, if you want to burn more calories then just walk faster! Increasing your walking pace from 3 mph to 3.5 mph can increase your calories burned by about 15%, while increasing your pace from 3 mph to 4 mph can increase your calories burned walking by 50%! Your steps per mile do go down when walking faster, but you’ll more than make up for that in the extra distance that you cover.
Make sure you have a relatively obstacle-free walking path with good footing so that you don’t slip. Keep your head and eyes up and walk with proper posture. Your arms should swing naturally at around a 90-degree angle. Each step should land on your heel before rolling through to your toes to push off into the next step. Don’t worry about your absolute pace, but focus on getting a bit more intense – whatever that means to you based on your fitness level, age, and how you feel when walking today.
You don’t need to jog or do other intense activity to burn more calories. Remember that the more intense you get, the more you need to ensure that you stay hydrated, prevent injuries, and stay safe. Build up your strength and flexibility, and you’ll be better able to cope with intense fitness walking.
Walking is already a great base, but you can make it more intense by changing up your terrain, mixing up your speed, and getting your upper body involved. Get more active and get your steps today!
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