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Sentara Martha Jefferson Orthopedics and Spine


How to Turn a Walk into a Workout


If you’re looking to ease into working out or switch up what you’re already doing, a brisk walk may just be what your body needs.

Walking doesn’t require fancy equipment, and it’s not intimidating. After all, you’ve been walking since you were a toddler.

Setting Your Goal

Yes, that 10,000-steps-a-day marker should be your overall goal. That amounts to about 5 miles a day. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week, which amounts to 30 minutes, five days a week to achieve health benefits including:

  • Heart health: Lowers blood pressure, increases circulation.
  • Bone health: Waking is considered a weight-bearing exercise, which helps build bone strength.
  • Healthier joints: While running can strain joints, walking brings oxygen and nutrients to joint cartilage.
  • Better moods and healthier brains: Exercising releases the “feel good” endorphin hormones that makes us happier. It also sparks connections in the neurons in your brain, adding to creativity and sharpening your memory.

Amp up Your Walk
To get the most benefits out of a walking workout, you will need to aim for a vigorous pace, the correct form and a duration long enough to get close to your 10,000-steps-a-day goal.

  • Form: Walk upright with your shoulders back and head up. Tighten your tummy. Swing your arms naturally. Walk with your heel first and then roll from your heal to toes.
  • Pace: Start with a relaxed pace to ease your way into the walk but then speed it up. The faster and longer you go, the more calories you will burn. Consider doing intervals.
  • Duration: Chip away at the overall goal of 10,000 steps a day. You can find a lot of charts and plans online to help you pick the right duration for your fitness objectives.

Make your walking workout more challenging by looking for hills or steps to go up. Stop to do lunges, squats, knee lifts, dips on a park bench or even pull-ups on a bar at a park.

Stretch Afterwards

When you finish your walk, stretch your warmed-up muscles.  Stretching activities should be done at least two days per a week, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Stretching increases flexibility, which, in turn, helps your joints and decreases your risk of injury.

Areas to stretch can include your hamstrings, calves, quads, glutes, chest, shoulders and back. Muscles that are most often tight are the hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and chest muscles.

Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort, according to ACSM guidelines. Repeat each stretch two to four times for a total of about a minute per stretch.

You’ve got a plan. Now it’s time to hit the road!