As we’ve reported countless times here at ETNT Mind+Body, walking isn’t just great for your physical and mental health. It’s also an integral part of any fitness plan for getting lean. Getting in walks will not only help you keep moving and enhance your NEAT (your “non-exercise activity thermogenesis,” otherwise known as all of your movements throughout the day that lead to fat burning and aren’t by definition “exercise”)—while helping your body recover on days in which you’re not doing more strenuous exercise—but, when done correctly, it’s a terrific calorie-burning exercise in and of itself.
After all, according to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, researchers who studied the effects of walking on obese women over the course of a 12-week period found that it was especially effective at targeting and reducing belly fat while also helping improve the body’s insulin response. The researchers recommend walking for anyone suffering from obesity or metabolic syndrome, or anyone who does “not have prior experience with exercise.”
“It is a fact that walking is not only a great way to stay healthy, but also it helps to burn fat,” says Jenny Abouobaia, CPT, a trainer, nutritionist, proprietor of Squat Til You Drop, and a former professional international dancer and choreographer who has trained clients online and in-person trainer for more than 10 years. “However, it needs to be done in the right way. Every step you take burns calories, but you can seriously slim down and get toned by adding hills, intervals, and sculpting moves to your walk.”
With that in mind, Abouobaia provided the following workout that you can do today. So check it out, and keep reading for a few ways to get even more out of your daily walks. And if you already love to walk, make sure you’re aware of The Secret Cult Walking Shoe That Walkers Everywhere Are Obsessed With.
As we’ve reported, your walking pace is everything, and you need to ramp up the intensity of your walks if you’d like to maximize your walks. “You can burn more calories walking at a brisk pace compared to walking more slowly,” says Abouobaia. “Speed directly affects the number of calories a person burns while exercising.”
That being said, it doesn’t mean you should run. “Instead, walk briskly, which will burn extra calories to help with weight loss,” she says.
To burn upwards of 175 calories, she says to do this workout:
“After warming up for 5 minutes, walk as fast as you can for 10 minutes. Note how far you went. Then turn around and walk back at a brisk pace, slowing your speed to cool down as you get closer to your starting point. Each time you do this workout, aim to walk faster and go farther than your initial turn-around point.” And for more on the benefits of walking, check out Exactly How Fast You Need to Walk to Live Longer, Says Science.
Another way to add intensity and difficulty to your walks to add elevation. “To help increase calorie burn, a person should walk uphill regularly,” says Abouobaia. “For some, this may mean increasing the treadmill gradient, while others may want to incorporate more hills into their outdoor walking routine. A person should aim to walk up hills, stairs, or inclines two to three times a week.” And for more great walking tips you can use, don’t miss these Bad Walking Habits Every Walker Should Quit, Say Experts.
Another tip for walking? Work on your abs while you go. “Focus on drawing your abs in toward your spine,” she says. “Try to maintain the contraction throughout your walk, but don’t hold your breath.”
Here’s how to do it: “Imagine that your legs extend up above your navel,” she says. “As one leg swings forward and back, that hip should follow. This slight hip swivel causes your lower torso to rotate, activating more ab muscles to tighten your midsection faster.”
Here’s one more great to for getting more out of your daily walk: Change the direction you’re walking. “Walk forward, backward, or sideways,” says Abouobaia. “This keeps your mind alert, turns up your calorie burn, and activates some often-underused muscles, such as your outer and inner thighs. This is best done on a school track.” And for more tips on becoming a better walker starting now, see here for The Secret Tricks for Walking for Exercise, According to Walking Specialists.