How I stay in shape by turning my daily walk into a strenuous exercise

How I stay in shape by turning my daily walk into a strenuous exercise

If I read again that walking is the best exercise, I will take a few steps and scream.

This article is about how to do walking better exercise.

In truth, walking is the most practical exercise. You can do this anywhere and anytime. That’s no small thing.

The problem is that normal walking won’t push your heart rate into the same zone as jogging or fast cycling or even a game of chicken ball, one study found.

Why is intensity important? Strength training is a more effective way to get fit, says cardiologist Matthew Nayor, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine, who tested the fitness of more than 3,000 participants in Framingham Heart Study. He found that one minute of moderate to vigorous exercise had the same benefit as two or three minutes of light exercise.

How will you know if the exercise is vigorous enough? If you can easily carry on a conversation, it’s probably moderate exercise, Nayor says. “If the sentences get shorter and it’s harder to carry on a conversation, you’re moving toward intense exercise.”

There are simple tricks you can use to transform casually engages in intense exercise. This includes walking up hills, carrying a backpack with weights, or doing a few sprints in your daily walk. Perhaps the best trick of all is to walk really fast.

I’ve been doing all of these things since August 14th, the day I swerved my bike too hard onto a dirt road near my home in New Jersey and was hit, breaking two bones in my right wrist and partially tearing a tendon. That hurt.

At the time, I was training about 12 hours a week in preparation for an October bike ride around Italy with friends from high school.

The next day I saw a hand surgeon and he told me that I probably wouldn’t need surgery, but that I could forget about cycling in Italy. He put my wrist in a splint and said I couldn’t drive a car, let alone ride a bike for a while.

That hurt even more. Not only did I forgo a trip to Italy, but I spent months getting into the best shape I’ve had in years. I would lose everything now.

The next day I started walking to avoid that fate. Am I in cycling shape? No way. But I kept myself in relatively good shape by daily strenuous walking. I had a previously scheduled cardiac stress test a few weeks after my bike crash and rest pulse – one way to measure how healthy your heart isis about the same as when I was riding 12 hours a week.

As with any other exercise regimen, you should talk to your doctor before doing vigorous walking. This is especially true if you are older.

Here are the tactics I used increase your daily walking routine. Anyone with a pair of walking shoes can use them.

Sprint every now and then

Short bursts of vigorous exercise woven into your daily walk will greatly enhance its cardiovascular benefits.

“High-intensity interval training is basically doing an activity ‘as hard as possible’ for about 30 seconds, whether it’s walking, running, cycling, swimming, followed by one to two minutes of recovery at an easier pace,” explains Edward Laskowski, Ph.D. of sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,

Walking in a hilly area is a natural type of interval training. When you walk up a hill, it’s a high intensity part. When you walk down, it’s recovery.

If you live in a flat area, try doing a few short sprints during your walk. Take time to recover after each sprint. I prefer to sprint on grass, which I do at the local park.

Wear weights

A backpack with weights or a vest can turn your walk into a strenuous workout. When I don’t feel like going fast, I put on a 30-pound backpack and walk through the nearby forest and hills. I’m exhausted by the time I get back to my house.

You can buy backpacks with secured weight plates to keep things from bouncing around. I’m stingy, so I just took a set of weights we had lying around and made a stable weight out of duct tape and cardboard that I could put in my backpack.

Pick up your pace

This is the most tiring training of all.

If you want to walk faster than 4 or maybe 4.5 miles an hour, which is a fast pace for most walkers, you have to bend your arms and swing them like a race walker. Here’s a demonstration. The more you swing your arms like this, the faster you will walk. Trained race walkers can walk at a speed of 9 or 10 miles per hour. You read it right. Here video recording Tom Bosworth from England who walked a mile in 5 minutes and 31 seconds. It’s hard to run a mile that fast.

The fastest I’ve managed lately isn’t exactly 5 miles per hour—less than half the speed of Bosworth!—and walking 4 miles at that pace was completely knocking me out. It was absolutely as hard as running or hard cycling. My legs were almost shaking by the end because — I can’t believe I’m writing this — walking can be the best exercise if done correctly.

Write to Neal Templin at [email protected]

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