Being at the end of my eighth month of pregnancy, I am always looking for ways to improve my workouts and fitness.  It is getting more and more difficult for me to run, so I have to modify and look at making walking more fun.  I always thought “why walk when you can run?”  Well, the more I explore the world of walking, the more I realize how aerobic it can actually be.

I used to see those ladies walking early in the morning in my neighborhood and pondered if they were actually getting a good workout.  Well, now I know that just moving 30 minutes a day is vital for your health.  These women may not have been doing the most intense workout imaginable, but they were moving which is more than what 60% of our society does on a daily basis.  I wanted to research all the ways walking can be as effective as all the other higher impact workouts done in the gym today.

First, I found that if you walk on a treadmill on an incline it burns 30% more calories than if you walk on a flat surface.  I started with intervals and increased my incline by 1.0 every minute until I got to 10 mins, then I decreased it every minute after that.  When I was at the 10th minute, my heart rate was well into the 150’s and I really worked up a sweat. It’s important to remember not to hold on to the handrails since they will give you stability and reduce the use of your core and leg muscles.

Another walking method I discovered is adding walking lunges every 5 minutes.  If I walked on an incline for 5 minutes then slowed down the pace and did 100 walking lunges for the next minute or two, not only am I increasing the muscles used during the workout, I added more of a caloric deficit to my walk.  This can be done in any plane of motion.

Lateral lunges are another great tool to use during a walk.  It forces your body to train in a different plane, therefore using different muscles and challenging your body to adapt to new stimuli.  I think even stopping and doing 50 squats, 25 pushups or even 10 burpees can all add to a walk to make it more intense and fun.

Some additional tricks to improve your walks is to change up the scenery.  If you always walk the same route, find one with more hills or a new path. Listen to energetic music.  It is proven that the more upbeat the music tempo you engage in when working out, the more energy you put into your workout.  If you have a hard time finding time to take your daily walk, make some calls along the way. Take your headset with you and return phone calls or catch up with friends whom you’ve been meaning to chat with.  It’s amazing how quick the workout will go if you have a distraction to keep you busy.

Most important is to enjoy yourself.  Find what ways make you work the hardest but also have the most fun.  That’s an effective workout!

Photo Credit: http://blog.nutribomb.com/2012/02/17/7-at-home-exercises-for-when-you-cant-get-to-the-gym/