Interval Walking - With or Without a Pedometer
How to Interval Walk
Exercise is More Than Just Weight Loss
Exercise is beneficial for reasons other than just weight loss. One of the most known alternative benefits of exercise is improved health. Exercise can reduce the risk of obesity-related health problems including prediabetes, diabetes, and heart disease. But the benefits don’t stop at weight loss and improved health. Exercise also boosts brain power. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a modest aerobic walking program prevents atrophy of the hippocampus (the portion of the brain responsible for memory) and may even make it larger. Exercise is also known to protect against many forms of cancer including those of the breast, colon, endometrium, prostate, and lung.
What is Interval Walking?
Interval walking is an exercise in which a person alternates between periods of high intensity and slower recovery walking. Interval walking boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories and fat in a shorter period of time. You heard right – in a shorter period of time. You just lost your excuse of not having enough time to exercise! Interval walking for 20 minutes every other day shifts your metabolism into high gear and you burn more calories and fat than if you walked at a constant, steady pace for 40 minutes. Interval walking not only burns more calories and fat in those 20 minutes but due to higher intensity of the workout you continue to burn more fat and calories even after you stop exercising!
To get the most out of your walking routine you should wear athletic shoes with proper support and choose synthetic athletic socks that will wick away moisture and keep your feet dry and cool. Warm up your muscles before you start interval walking by starting your walk at a slow or moderate pace. Be sure to maintain proper posture while walking, keeping your abdominals tightened, your chest lifted, and your chin parallel to the ground. When taking a step roll your foot from heel to toe and contract your glutes (butt muscles). Remember to start out slowly and build your way up to the intervals. Listen to your body and remember not to push yourself too hard at first.
Example of an Interval Walk
- Warm up with a 5 minute walk at an easy pace – this is in place of stretching
- Walk at a brisk pace for 15 seconds and then at a slow pace for 60 seconds
- Repeat the 15 seconds and 60 seconds 8 times
- Cool down with a 5 minute walk at an easy pace
You should not stress too much over keeping track of time. Set a timer or watch to keep track of 20 minutes for you. Then you just have to focus on counting 15 seconds, 60 seconds, 15 seconds, 60 seconds and so on. Remarkably, counting the minutes for intervals makes my workout fly by.
How to Gauge How Fast You’re Walking
The easiest way to determine your pace without wearing a pedometer is to count your number of steps per minute. Then use the following chart to convert your steps to miles and pace:
- 70 steps per minute = 30 minutes per mile = 2 miles per hour
- 105 steps per minute = 20 minutes per mile = 3 miles per hour
- 140 steps per minute = 15 minutes per mile = 4 miles per hour
The average 150 pound person burns between 80 and 100 calories per mile. However, several other factors determine exact number of calories burned such as height, weight, fitness level, terrain, clothing, and temperature.
Interval walking can be done just as easily on a treadmill as outdoors – don’t let cold weather or 98 degree days keep you from getting your exercise. Another fun way to perform intervals is on a bicycle. You can use a regular bike or a stationary bike to get the same results. Interval walking/training may not be for you and that’s perfectly acceptable. What’s most important is that you find an exercise program that works for you and that you stick with it.
Easy Ways to Add Exercise into Your Day
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk to daily errands if possible
- If you must drive, park as far away from a building as possible
- At work, take phone calls standing up
- Perform leg lifts while washing dishes
- Walk your dog - if you don’t have a dog ask a neighbor or friend to borrow theirs
- Contract and relax muscle groups while sitting
- Power clean the house – run around like you’re having company in 20 minutes and the house HAS to be spotless
- Use a push mower to cut your grass – or better yet use a reel mower and get exercise while protecting our planet
- Play with your kids – seriously, get in the trampoline with them or throw a dance party