Walking may be the simplest way to work out
Want to slim down and tone up? Step to it: Researchers from the London School of Economics found that people who walked briskly for at least 30 minutes a day tended to have lower a body mass index and smaller waistlines than even those who hit the gym regularly.
The key is changing up your walking routine regularly, says Deazie Gibson, a group fitness instructor and personal trainer with Acacia TV. “Not only does it keep you interested and motivated, but it can also speed up your weight loss.” In fact, a study published in Biology Letters shows that switching up your walking pace burns up to 20% more calories than keeping a steady pace.
To help you torch more calories—and have more fun—give the following week of walking workouts a try. It mixes fast-paced intervals with total-body toning for maximum results. How fast should you step? Measure your effort, or rate of perceived exertion (RPE), on a scale of 1 to 10—with 10 being an all-out effort.
Monday: Ease into the week with a brisk walk (an effort of 6 on a scale of 1 to 10) for 20 to 30 minutes. You should be slightly above your comfort zone.
Tuesday: Get your heart pumping with an interval workout. Alternate between 30 seconds of fast walking (slightly uncomfortable, 7 or 8 effort) and 30 seconds of moderate walking (4 effort), for 20 to 30 minutes.
Wednesday: Switching things up challenges your muscles—and sparks your interest. Every 3 minutes, stop to do an interval of one of the following, continuously for 30 seconds: lunges; push-ups; step with high knees; jumping jacks; sit down on a bench and stand back up (or just do squats). Repeat for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.
Thursday: Challenge your arms and shoulders by walking with a resistance band. Every 3 minutes, as you continue to walk (or step in place), hold the ends of the band straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Stretch the band out as you pull your arms directly out to your sides while keeping them at shoulder height. Do 10 to 15 repetitions, then resume your 20- to 30-minute walk at a 6 to 7 effort pace. (If you don’t have a resistance band, you can mimic the move using light dumbbells or two full water bottles.)
Friday: Combine the week’s workout into one master workout. Do 2 minutes of a brisk walk (6 effort); 2 minutes of intervals; 30 seconds of lunges, high knees, or squats, followed by 2 minutes of walking (4 to 5 effort); and 30 seconds of resistance bands followed by 2 minutes of walking (6 to 7 effort). Repeat for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.
Saturday: Go for a mindful walk. If you can, pair up with a friend. Walk at a decent pace (6 effort) and, every few minutes, remind each other about proper posture: Pull your abs in, squeeze your glutes, and push off with the heels.
Sunday: It’s your pick! Go for a leisurely 30-minute stroll to smell the roses, or challenge yourself by walking as fast as you can for 15 minutes.