Walking is cooler than ever, thanks in large part to the popular TikTok Hot Girl Walk trend. Not only is it great, but walking is also good for your mental and physical health.
There are also ways to make walking more beneficial, whether that’s Nordic walking (a type of walking that uses sticks, similar to ski poles, to engage your upper body) or choppy walking, which, according to Harvard Health, gets your heart rate up. More than an ordinary outing.
Interval walking involves phases of brisk, moderate walking to create a challenging workout. You can mix and match the duration of each pace however you like, but in general the majority of walking is done at a moderate pace with speed sprinkled throughout. It’s common to do this exercise in a 2-to-1 ratio, which means you walk at a moderate pace to double the amount of time at a brisk pace (so walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes and follow at a faster pace of 1 minute walking), but it’s really up to you how you split it up.
During a moderate walking pace, you should be about 30% to 40% of your maximum effort, said Kate Lemmer, chief trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp Chicago. In other words, your walk should be at a pace that allows you to have a conversation.
She said that during strong, fast intervals, you’ll want to be about 70% of your max effort, a pace at which it’s hard to put an entire sentence together.
Intermittent walking is a way to add something different to your usual walk and can make it more efficient.
Here, the experts share all the ways that intermittent walking is good for your health.
Shortens the amount of time you need to exercise.
“What does interval training do for you? It reduces the amount of time you have to exercise to get the same benefit,” said Dr. Michael Ayers, a sports cardiologist at UVA Health in Virginia.
For people with busy schedules, this is a huge benefit of incorporating slow, fast walking intervals — or incorporating any type of high-intensity interval training into your workout, for that matter. When you mix vigorous exercise with moderate exercise, those short bursts of vigorous exercise give you the same benefits of slow walking in less time, Ayers said.
In other words, all the benefits of moderate-intensity walking can be achieved faster when you add in some fast, high-intensity intervals.
“Interval training definitely reduces the amount of exercise you have to do per week,” he added.
It creates an endorphin rush.
In general, Ayers notes, one of the main reasons his patients love interval training is how it makes them feel afterward.
“There’s a big endorphin kick when you do a hard workout,” he said. with a period of walking, As long as you hit a strong pace for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, you’ll get an endorphin kick.
You can do a five-minute medium tempo interval followed by a one-minute brisk interval, or one minute of moderate walking followed by 30 seconds of vigorous walking. As long as you interrupt your slow periods with at least 30 seconds of vigorous walking, you’ll be well on your way to boosting endorphins.
It builds endurance.
Walking may not be the first thing you think of when thinking about endurance-building exercises, but walking can increase your endurance, according to Dr. Tamanna Singh, MD, a clinical cardiologist and co-director of the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
For someone who really pushes themselves while walking, especially if they are not used to vigorous exercise, accelerating the pace “may be enough to stimulate the aerobic and anaerobic systems,” she added.
Singh said this will help you build your aerobic endurance and maintain anaerobic effort levels going forward.
Additionally, interval training can help you reach your endurance goals related to walking farther or walking faster.
″[The] The best way to increase [walking] Speed with Interval Training – Increasing the duration of those faster intervals over time will help you do that,” Singh said.
It is a good exercise for people who are returning to exercise.
Lemmer said intermittent walking can also be a great progression for those who return to aerobic activity after an injury or pregnancy.
If you fall into one of these categories, you shouldn’t jump right into your workout. First, she said, make sure you can walk at a steady pace and recover without pain the next day. And it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding something new to your post-injury exercise routine.
But if you’re ready to take your walking to the next level, you can increase your workout output by adding in quick slow intervals.
Intermittent walking is beneficial for people who are recovering from an injury and are hoping to return to running as well.
“Incorporating periods of walking is one of the best ways not only to increase your cardio but also to progress if your goal includes running,” Lemerre noted.
It can help you feel bored during exercise.
Variety means excitement in most scenarios, including workouts.
Walking 45 minutes or a full hour may seem daunting (and can end up being kind of boring), but when you break that walk into parts that include brisk walking followed by slow walking, you can make your workout more exciting, Singh noted.
You can try walking at a moderate pace for 10 minutes, following it up with a brisk walk for five minutes, and repeating this pattern until you reach your time goal. This is also a way to stay engaged during exercise, she added, which is another big benefit.
“Participation is a big element in making sure people can stick” to the exercise, Singh said.
It’s not as hard on your body as traditional running…
When you don’t warm up and recover properly, “running can be very painful and hard to recover from,” said Lemmer.
Our bodies change with age, and running may not be something you can do anymore. That’s fine.
Intermittent walking is a good way to get some quick movements outdoors without putting all that pressure on your joints.
But the cardiovascular benefits of walking at a steady pace are much the same.
In addition to the above benefits, intermittent walking has not been shown to be more beneficial than continuous walking when it comes to overall health. You may sweat a little more after a brisk walk, but the overall health benefits won’t actually be much different.
Walking of any kind was healthy, Ayers said. Across the board, walking increases muscle strength and reduces the likelihood of developing diabetes, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes as well.
“At the end of the day, move [and] “Be very intentional about how you move your body,” Singh said. “This is the easiest and cheapest way to stay healthy and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
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