If you hate counting down the minutes on the treadmill or elliptical, or feel like you’re constantly checking your watch when walking outdoors, interval walking indoors or out can help keep your workout fun and fresh. Change up your usual routine by alternating fast, intense walking with periods of slower strides to allow your body to recover. By doing interval walking for about 20 minutes every other day (do core-strengthening exercises on the days you’re not walking), you can shift your metabolism into high gear and burn more calories and fat than you would if you were walking at a steady pace.
And there’s a bonus: With interval walking, the higher the intensity of the exercise, the longer the afterburn, meaning that you will keep burning more fat and calories even after you stop exercising! Here are 6 tips to help you get the most out of your interval-walking session:
- Wear shoes that will give you proper support, such as walking shoes, cross-training shoes, or running shoes. Avoid cotton socks and choose synthetic athletic socks that will wick away moisture while keeping your feet dry and blister-free.
- Begin and end each session with a warm up and cool down walk of about 5 minutes each at a slow pace.
- Do your best to maintain good posture while you’re walking. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your chest lifted. Avoid leading with your chin while walking; it can result in neck and back pain.
- With each step, strike the ground (or the treadmill) from heel to toe and feel your buttocks (glutes) contract. This strengthens your buttocks and hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of your legs) as you walk.
- Remember that doing anything is better than doing nothing. Start slowly, and then gradually increase your speed, length of intervals and recovery periods, and total distance.
- If you're not up to doing interval walking on a given day, try to take a recreational walk for 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll feel refreshed and energized.