Whether youre testing out a great urban trail or walking in your own neighborhood, you can boost your calorie burn, walk faster, and stay injury-free by having good form. Heres what to do, courtesy of Contributing Editor Mark Fenton, co-author of Pedometer Walking: Stepping Your Way to Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness.
Tips for Increased Calorie Burning
Youll burn 170 calories per hour walking at a leisurely pace (2 mph), 238 calories per hour at a moderate pace (3 mph), and 272 calories per hour at a brisk pace (4 mph). All counts are based on a 150-pound person.
If you like listening to music, choose fast-paced songs and step to the rhythm; itll help quicken your pace and burn more calories. For safety, wear earphones only when walking in a familiar area.
Pointers on Body Positioning
Your head: Look straight ahead, not down at the ground.
Your arms: Relax your arms by your sides and swing them front to back, not out to the sides; your hands shouldnt come up higher than your breastbone. On hills, bend your arms to 90 degrees for more pumping power.
Your hips and waist: Stand tall and keep your hips positioned directly above your feet. Dont lean forward or back from the waist, even when going up hills (although its OK to sit back slightly when heading downhill, as long as you keep your weight over your feet).
Your legs: Stick with your natural stride length to help avoid shin pain, the most common complaint among walkers. To increase your speed, focus on taking quicker steps, not longer ones.
Your feet: Land on your heel first, then roll through to the ball of your foot.
Your shoes: Choose a walking shoe with a rugged tread and rounded heel. It should bend easily at the ball (not the arch) of your foot.