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Add intervals to your walking routine

Walking intervals: speed and hill

You don’t need to run to torch some major calories and get a huge cardiovascular benefit. In fact, if you’ve been feeling sort of stagnant about walking lately, consider this: Researchers studied a group of overweight women and had them do 45-minute speed-interval walking workouts and toning exercises four times a week. In the end, the group lost an average of 23 pounds in 16 weeks – all by adding in the intervals. And, some other surprising, less touted benefits of intervals include improved brain function and more muscle. 

Intervals are bursts of harder effort interspersed into your regular walking that rev up your metabolism, meaning you’ll burn more calories (and go farther) each session. In addition, you’ll also gain better cardiovascular fitness. Best of all, if you’re bored with your usual loop, adding intervals is a sure way to spice things up.

There are two main types of intervals walkers can do:

  • Speed intervals: If you’d like to check out a couple great walking interval workouts, try this Fat-Blasting Interval Workout via fitbie or even this 10-Minute Indoor Interval Walk via Jessica Smith. Less formally, you can always head out on your normal walk, warm up for a few minutes, and then insert 30 second to 1-2 minutes of faster walking with a few minutes of slower walking in-between.
  • Hill intervals: If you’d rather not pick up the pace, you can also add hill intervals to up the intensity of your workouts. Walking or jogging on an incline takes more effort than on flat land, so the same principles apply with regard to all the benefits. Plus, changing your incline will help target muscles you might not use as often, contributing to overall leg/body strength and confidence. For a fantastic hill interval workouts, try this 20-Minute Hill Walking Workout via Fitness Magazine – it’s sure to sculpt your glutes in no time! And you can burn between 220 and 366 calories in just 45 minutes with this hilly workout. Again, you can perform hill intervals much less formally by following the instructions in this link.

Already walking at a brisk pace? Consider adding jogging or even a mix of faster, hillier walking like this 400-Calorie-Burning Walking Interval Workout via FitSugar or this 40-Minute Mixed Interval Workout via Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life. Whatever you choose, beware to not change your normal plodding too fast or too soon. As with any modification in your routine, you could set yourself up for injury this way. One or two days a week of intervals should be sufficient to reap the benefits.

Written by Ashley Marcin.