It has been a while since I revisited the basics of using walking as a form of cardio training. First and foremost, for those who are wondering whether or not you can even get a cardio workout out of a walk, the answer is yes! When you walk for a longer period of time, at a high enough intensity, and multiple times a week, you can truly get a great cardio workout out of walking! In fact, many people can get a better workout out of cardio walking over jogging or running. Studies have even shown that the most successful long-term weight loss programs involve walking as the main form of physical activity.
Many people prefer walking over running because they think that is easier and more manageable. Most people can complete a longer workout if they are walking, which typically means that the walking workout is more effective than a quick run. It can also be less tough on your muscles, so you are less prone to injuries or sore muscles. It is also easier to read the news or listen to a podcast while you walk, rather than during the constant bobbing motion that happens when you go for a run.
There are a lot of things to think about when you use walking as your main source of cardio. The most important aspect of walking that you should master is your posture. Your posture should be naturally tall. Your head should be up and looking outward, while your chin should be up and straight. Your shoulders should be relaxed, your abdominal muscles should be engaged, and your chest should be widened. As for your extremities, your hands should be relaxed and your arms should brush against your shoulder as you walk. As your arm swings up, your hand should be at breast-bone level and as your arms swing down, your hand should brush your hip. As for your hips, they should be relaxed! As your foot touches the ground, you should roll from your heel to the arch of your foot, from the arch to the ball of your foot, and from the ball of your foot to your toes. As you push off from your toes and the ball of your foot, you should be moving into your next step.
As I mentioned before, there is a lot to think about if you are planning on using walking as a workout. You should walk for at least 30-45 minutes, five days a week. It might take you some time to get to this frequency, and if that’s the case, start by doing five 10 to 20 minute walks per week. As the weeks go by, increase the amount of exercise time by a few minutes! Once you can walk for that amount of time, you should increase your pace. The difference between walking a 20 minutes per mile pace and a 12 minutes per mile pass is huge! You will burn a lot more calories by walking more quickly for a longer period of time. If you are able to vary your terrain, do so! Getting in some hill workouts will be highly beneficial for you!
If you are someone who is looking to get into an exercise terrain, you might want to start off by walking. From there, you can move on to many other exercises!
(Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero)