9 Little Tweaks That Make Walking Workouts More Effective
Walk this way
If you have diabetes (or worry about getting it), consider this: Exercise improves your body's ability to control blood sugar. "It's not just during exercise; the effect can last 48 hours afterward," says George King, MD, author of The Diabetes Reset. When you're active, your muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, absorbing larger amounts of glucose. Over time, regular exercise can help you shed weight. And you don't need to do CrossFit. "Even walking can be incredibly helpful," Dr. King points out. A few tweaks to your form can mean a much better workout for your heart and muscles (plus more calories torched!). Here's how to boost your burn with every step.
Wear a heart rate monitor
It's like having your own coach to keep you at optimal intensity (about 75 percent of your max heart rate). "It can give you a nudge if you slow down," says Therese Iknoian, author of Fitness Walking.
Count your steps
Research shows that people who wear a pedometer walk about 2,000 more steps per day. Apps like Pedometer++ and Accupedo can have the same inspiring effect.
Roll through the ball of your foot
And push off with your toes. Imagine you're trying to wipe a piece of gum off your sole, Iknoian suggests, to get your calf and hamstring muscles involved.
Focus your eyes on the horizon
When your head is raised, your chest opens and you can take deeper breaths, says Mark Fenton, associate professor at Tufts University and author of The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness.
Keep your ears and shoulders directly above your hips to engage your core.
Standing up straight has other benefits, too. Checking your posture will instantly make you look younger and thinner, and it may even help you feel more energized.
RELATED: 3 Steps to Perk Up Your Posture
Make a loose fist
Clenching your hands just wastes energy that could be used to power your walk.
Pump your arms
Your hands should reach midbreastbone height on the upswing and brush past your hips on the downswing, says Toronto coach Lee Scott, who trains clients to walk marathons.
Squeeze your glutes
Keep your stride short
Longer steps lead to a bouncier gait, which can increase the risk of injury to your joints.