TURN YOUR WALK INTO A WORKOUT
When it comes to getting into great shape, walking isn’t exactly the fastest or most efficient way to get there. It is, however, simple, low impact, portable ... and free! It’s an ideal choice for those looking to add some activity to their days and it is likely one of the best ways to reduce stress and is helpful in efforts to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight.
While I was recovering from shoulder surgery last year, I went for a walk less than 24 hours after my operation and used walking for fitness until I was able to do more aggressive forms of exercise like cycling, weight training and jogging. Walking is unparalleled as a “bridge” activity between rehabilitation and fitness.
For some people, it is their primary fitness choice due to chronic illnesses like arthritis or heart disease and should be part of everyone’s day as they age.
Several clients have asked me provide input on how to turn a walk into more of a “workout” as a way to spend less time indoors at the gym. To be able to spend time in nature while doing a complete fitness routine has great appeal for anyone that values our limited Canadian summers!
Here then, are three ways that you can turn your daily walk into more of a workout.
1. Add wrist and ankle weights for increased resistance. According to the American Council on Exercise, there is evidence that adding 1 to 3 pounds to your wrists and to your ankles can increase the amount of work done during your typical walk. Heart rate may increase by 5 to 10 beats per minute and both caloric and oxygen consumption will increase by 5 to 15 per cent. Essentially, you get the benefits of a more strenuous walking workout, without changing your pace.
Along with the benefits, however, there are a couple of risks to be aware of. Do not walk with dumbbells as the gripping can raise your blood pressure and do not use more than 3 pounds as the increased load will add stress to your shoulders, elbows, knees and hips.
2. Bring a rubber resistance band with handles on your walk for a circuit training workout. I like to tie the band around my waist and walk for about 5 minutes before stopping to exercise. At the 5 minute mark, stop and remove the band to complete 20 repetitions of the following 6 exercises:
1. Chest press with the band around a pole (or tree) 2. Rowing 3. Core rotations 4. Triceps kickbacks 5. Biceps curls, standing on the band 6. Body weight squats After completing the circuit of exercises, continue walking for 5 minutes and repeat 3 times with a 5 minute walk to finish. You’ll have completed 25 minutes of walking and 3 sets of 20 reps of each exercise.
3. If you’re looking to really take things up a notch, there is nothing more challenging than climbing stairs. Whether they are indoors in your apartment or outdoors, such as the multiple sets around Hamilton scaling the escarpment, you’ll feel the increased work within minutes of starting.
My favourite stair climbing workout involves using a heart rate monitor. The ones that include a strap across your chest and a wrist watch receiver are the most accurate and the most convenient. Pick a training zone that you’d like to work in. For me, it would be between 120 and 145 beats per minute. Start climbing and monitor your heart rate. Climb until your heart rate hits the upper limit of your training zone (145 for me) and then descend, only to the point where your heart rate is at the lower limit (in my case, 120). When you hit the lower limit, turn around and climb until you get to the top or your zone. This workout keeps you in your ideal training zone, based on heart rate, bringing you maximum benefit.
Resistance bands are a perfect portable piece of exercise equipment to take along on your walks.