Juice Up Your Fall Walk
One of my favorite things about living in Pennsylvania is the changing seasons. There’s something vibrant in the air as we start to move from one season to the next. And the transition into autumn just might be my favorite change of all.
(Sidenote: can someone please remind me how much I love the changing seasons when I’m shoveling my driveway for the hundredth time in late January?)
Despite looking forward to the new season, the trick is to appreciate the season you have, while you have it. So before we get too enamored with the idea of sipping pumpkin spice lattes and wearing sweaters and boots, let’s enjoy the last few weeks of warm weather while we can!
And what better way to soak up the sun than a nice long walk? Walking is a great low-impact exercise, and today I have some tips to take your walk to the next level to burn more calories and work your bod.
Here are some tweaks to bring a lot more oomph to your walk:
Wear a heart rate monitor. New gizmos like FitBit and JawBone make it easy to track your heart rate. Your ideal aerobic zone is around 75% — use these tools to track if it starts slowing down and push yourself to pump it up.
Try intervals. Alternate short bursts of intense, fast walking with recovery periods where you take it a little slower to catch your breath. Short power intervals let you push yourself without overexerting. Plus, it breaks up your walk and makes it more interesting!
Walk first thing in the morning. Research suggests that walking before you eat breakfast helps you burn more fat (up to 50% more!). Plus, I’m always a fan of having a workout in the morning, so that no matter how busy your day becomes, you know you’re getting a healthy workout in.
Involve your arms. Yes, it might feel a little funny and yes, you might look like a stereotypical power-walker. But working your arms is worth it! Bend at the elbow and actively swing your arms in rhythm with your walk — you’ll burn more calories, you’ll move faster, and you’ll give your arms a workout too.
Mix it up. Just like we get bored with repetitive workouts, so do our muscles. Walking on different surfaces engages different joints and muscles. So try a walk on sand, on grass, on pavement, up hills or stairs, and through the woods to keep your leg muscles guessing.
Count your steps. We should aim for 10,000 steps per day, but most of us don’t get nearly enough. Research has shown that people who wear pedometers walk an average of 2,000 more steps daily, and that really adds up! Try an app like Accupedo (or use the Health app if you have an iPhone) to track your steps.
Keep your head up. No, really…keep your head up! Keeping your head raised while walking opens up your chest so you can take full, deep breaths while walking. Keeping your eyes on the horizon is a good way to do this.
Work your upper muscles. Walking workouts can engage more than just your lower body. Focus on keeping your back straight, your stomach tight, and your shoulders back to engage your core and back muscles too. (Bonus: standing taller also makes you look slimmer and more confident!)
Keep it loose. Many of us clench our fists when we walk, but that actually wastes valuable energy. Keep your fists loose or walk with an open palm instead.
Push yourself. Strolls with friends or your family can be taken leisurely, but when you’re working on your fitness, make it count! As your endurance grows, make sure your pace does too. You always want to audibly hear your breath and feel as if you’re pushing yourself when you’re walking.
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