Physical Activity Boost: Walk a New Walk

August 24, 2012

By Lizzy Parker, HSC communications intern

Lizzy Parker is a rising junior at Colorado College with a passion for health and fitness. In January of 2012, she became a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. As an intern at HSC this summer, she looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for and knowledge about physical activity—and, that it can be fun!

Most exercise enthusiasts choose running as their preferred form of cardio.  However, new research shows that walking can in many ways be equally, or more, beneficial to your health.  A daily walk with your family is a wonderful habit to get into. If walking seems like a dull form of exercise for your high-energy kids, think again. You can vary your walking routine in a number of fun ways to keep everyone interested! Try these ideas: 

  • Change up your speed. If you are walking at a pace that feels a little too comfortable, push yourself. Pump those arms and move those legs. Believe me, power walking is no joke when done for a few miles. You will be sure to raise your heart rate and work up a sweat.
  • One word: hills. Hiking is one of my absolute favorite forms of exercise because it is just walking at an incline. Though a small change, the angle will activate muscles in your glutes, quadriceps, calves, and core that walking on flat ground cannot target. No mountains? No problem. Find the largest hill near you and walk up as quickly as you can for at least ten rounds. Focus on keeping your core tight, your shoulders retracted for good posture, and really be conscious of not leaning too far forward. Leaning forward too much will put pressure on your lower back, which is not good.
  • If you are a little more advanced, consider adding interval training to your repertoire. Really anyone can do interval training because it can be scaled to individual skill level or age group. To start, alternate three minutes of walking with one minute of a higher-impact exercise. Some ideas: power walking, bear crawls, high knees, crab walks, skipping, frog jumps, squats and walking lunges. All of these movements are called “compound exercises.” This means that they do not target one particular muscle; instead, several muscle groups must work together. Compound exercises enhance your functionality, i.e. your ability to recruit your muscles to work more quickly and more efficiently. 
  • Add some resistance. Carry a weighted backpack filled with . . . whatever heavy objects you have handy! Canned goods work perfectly. Added resistance benefits bone and joint health, and strengthens stabilizer muscles in the ankles, knees, and core. 

Walking is a highly accessible form of exercise and best of all, it is easily adapted to any fitness level.  So grab a partner and hit the ground. . . walking!

Disclaimer: The recommendations on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for recommendations from your physician. Take care to consult with your physician if you have questions or concerns about beginning a new exercise regimen. As always, if something hurts, don’t do it. Know your body’s limits and refrain for pushing yourself too far, too fast.