Make Your Walk a Workout

From first-time fitness walkers to road-tested walking fanatics, everyone wants to know how to make walking a better workout.

You've heard that walking can get you as fit as running can or, for that matter, as any aerobic activity with much less risk of injury. But the questions linger: How do you actually take it up another notch? Can you really double your calorie burn, or walk yourself into top condition? Some people wonder if they can ever walk fast enough to just break a sweat.

Its as easy as this: You have to learn to walk again. Technique is the key to improvement. Just apply these four easy steps, one at a time.

One: Get Your Posture in Line
Especially for walkers just getting started

The Benefits
Move with proper posture in mind for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, and you'll improve your health and energy level and lengthen your life.

The Basics
Stand tall from your ear to your ankle. Keep your chin up and level. Shoulders back. A tall body is more efficient and powerful, and less prone to walking discomfort.

Speed to Strive For
At this level, walk at a comfortable pace, which for most people is 2.5 to 3.5 mph (that's about 17 to 24 minutes per mile; around 115 steps per minute). Calories burned in one hour: 200 to 300.

Keep your eyes on the horizon and your abdomens gently contracted. Think tall, but not stiff.

A shelf-butt. This means keep your glutes in a straight line with the rest of your body. Don't let your rear lag behind. Keep your abdominals pulled in.

Can You Talk?
Yes, you should be able to carry on a normal conversation, though you might hear your breath as you do so.

Key to Success
You should maintain a proper posture all of the time, not just while walking. Constantly think about standing tall and taking the slouch out of your back, whether you're carrying groceries, typing on the computer, or driving the car. Add regular abdominal strengtheners to your routine just a few minutes worth to make this really stick.

Two: Speed Up Your Steps
When you want to burn more calories

The Benefits

Weight loss depends on burning calories. Crank up the speed and the pounds will fall off more quickly.

The Basics
Turn up the metronome and take quicker steps. As you walk faster, the increase in your step rate (more steps per minute) is critical to maintaining a higher speed. Sure, your stride length increases too, but the key is quicker steps.

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