5 Tips To Make The Most Of Outdoor Walking As Exercise

By Athlete's Care on March 19, 2021

Walking is the ideal exercise, and it’s recommended for many of our clients by our Toronto physiotherapists and other sports medicine specialists. It can be performed indoors or out, virtually anywhere, and virtually anytime – with some exceptions, of course.

When it’s not possible to get to the gym, it’s an always-available workout. But, just a stroll down the street won’t maximize the opportunity. Here’s how to make the most out of your walk.

1. Make Your Warm-Up Dynamic

Many people begin their walks with a bit of stretching. You can add to the impact of your walking workout by taking your prep up a notch or two. Add activities that will help boost your blood flow, and begin to get those walking muscles in motion. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Leg swings;
  • Calf raises;
  • Lunge walking;
  • Hip flexors.

2. Increase The Distance A Little Every Day

One easy way to get more out of your walk is to simply add more time – i.e. more steps. If you’re just starting out, a 30 minute walk three times a week is a realistic goal. After the first two weeks, begin to add an extra five minutes onto each walk, and bump it up to four times a week.

  • Keep going until you find it challenging to keep up the pace;
  • That’s your benchmark;
  • You can stay there, or switch to shorter walks at a faster pace.

Walking for an hour can help your body burn up to five times as many calories post-exercise, as compared to a 30 minute walk.

3. Add Intervals Of Intense Activity

It’s a mistake to think of walking as taking place a single speed or pace, especially when you want to make it more challenging. Adding the idea of intervals to your walk is a good way to do that. Here’s a sample pattern you can adapt to your own use:

  • Begin with a walk at your usual pace for about 10 to 15 minutes;
  • Now walk as fast as you can without breaking into a run – you should feel your heart beating faster, and your breathing accelerate – for one minute;
  • Slow back down for one minute;
  • Accelerate for another two minutes;
  • Slow back down for two minutes;
  • Keep going to three and even four minutes each if you can, and then work your way back down to one;
  • Follow up with 10 minutes at your regular pace.

4. Add Weights Or Resistance Bands

There are a few different ways you can add weights and resistance to your walk.

  • Wrist weights of 1 to 2 pounds each;
  • Carry light (2kg) dumbbells, or even soup cans;
  • You can buy weighted vests.

If you bring along one or two resistance bands, you can stop along the way and add a series of resistance moves like monster walks or lunges. You can loop a longer resistance band around a fence or playground equipment and add tricep extensions or pull-downs. Our Toronto physiotherapists and sports medicine specialists can advise you on appropriate exercises using small weights and resistance bands.

5. Use The Landscape

If you can choose, vary the landscape that you walk on, including nice uphill challenges. Walking uphill can be even more physically demanding than running. Walking downhill also uses different sets of muscles, and involves your sense of balance.

Naturally, stairs are an ideal way to boost your workout, so if there is any way to incorporate a set, it’s a great idea to make the most of them.

If you have any questions or need advice on exercise tailored to your condition and lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to contact our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics for a consultation.