5 Ways to Make Your Walks a Workout

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No matter what time of year it is, just a brisk 30-minute walk a few days a week has great benefits. It's a matter of creating healthy challenges that add value to your physical activity. A good walking shoe, for instance, can give support and flexibility your body needs.

Walking can help you manage weight, lower blood pressure, improve mood and cholesterol levels and stay strong and fit.

Prep Before You Walk

Take a few minutes to do some light warm ups by walking slowly to warm up your muscles. After warming up, do a few stretches such as a hamstring stretch and quad stretch. After each session, cool down for a few minutes and repeat.

Adding Weights While Walking

Weights are a great added aerobic benefit. Weights added to your belt or pockets help to evenly distribute weight while walking. You can also wear a backpack with a few books. Added weight to your body safely may keep you moving a good pace. Dicks Sporting Goods has a selection of fitness accessories to help you personalize your workout.

Get Your Muscles to Work Harder

There are three major areas of the body that can be toned by walking: the stomach, thighs and upper arms. There are simple techniques you can do while walking that help tone theses areas. Contract stomach muscles four to 10 times while breathing normally. Hold until your muscles are fatigue and release. An uphill route that is steep, or has stairs, is great for your quad muscles while walking. To challenge yourself, try doing walking lunges.

While waiting to cross the street, march in place to bring up your heart rate. Bring a resistance band with you to do bicep curls.

Track Progress and Set Goals

Set realist goals based on your personal schedule. If you can only walk for 30 minutes a few days a week, it's a start. You can break it up into intervals such as do 15 minutes during lunch and another 15 minutes after work, or in the morning. Record your distance and how many steps you take. A pedometer can help you calculate time and distance.

Stay Motivated

Take initiative to stay committed. Look at ways to make walking fun. Have a walking buddy such as a friend or spouse. Look into a health club or invest in a treadmill. Mix up your routine by creating different walking routes—look into other areas to walk in your neighbor such as the park.

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