Fitness Articles

14 Ways to Add Variety to Your Walks

Bored with Walking? Try These Ideas!

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While a walking program can be exciting and challenging at first, you don’t want to fall into a rut by doing the same thing month after month. Here are some ways to add variety to your workouts, whether outdoors or inside on the treadmill.

Add an Incline
Even adding a moderate hill can significantly boost your energy expenditure so you burn more calories, build more strength, and strengthen your bones.
  • On a treadmill, start with the incline at 2% and add 1% every few weeks. Don't add so much incline that you have to hold on to the treadmill or can't maintain proper walking form. If that happens, bring the incline back down to a more comfortable level.
  • Outside, vary your route to include more hills. The change of route will keep you from getting bored, and the hills will increase the intensity of your workout.
  • Try incline intervals. Instead of walking up a steady incline the entire time, walk up a hill or incline for a few minutes, and then walk downhill (or at a lower incline) to recover for a few minutes. Repeat these intervals during your workout to keep things interesting.
Try Speed Walking
Pump your arms (at a 90-degree angle) vigorously as you speed up your pace. Your arms should move front-to-back and not side-to-side (commonly referred to as “chicken wings”). You can burn 5%-10% extra calories by adding this faster, more deliberate arm movement to your walks. Practice this technique over short distances until you can build up your time and speed, being sure to breathe properly the entire time.

Just Add Water
Walking in the water (waist high and above) is harder than it looks. The water’s resistance makes walking much more challenging. In turn, walking on land will feel easier if you also train in the water. Plus, water exercise is easy on the joints.
  • In the shallow end, try walking the length of the pool (don’t forget to use your arms). Go as quickly as possible for 10 seconds, then slower for a 1 minute recovery. Start with 5 sets and build from there, alternating forward and backward. Be sure to walk with proper form and allow your entire foot to strike the bottom of the pool from heel to toe.
  • In the deep end, strap on a flotation belt for water walking. You can do the same "bursts" described above or vary your routine depending on your ability and preference: Try more or fewer quick bursts, longer or shorter steps, changing directions, etc.
Change Your Stride
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • Nordic Pole walking!!! - 9/17/2014 10:54:04 PM
  • I'm really enjoying walking now (since it's virtually fall in the upper midwest and nice and cool) and what I do is vary my path (sometimes I go through the park, sometimes I loop around a different street) and my speed. I've even added jog intervals. - 9/17/2014 12:48:28 PM
  • very very helpful thanks for your advices - 3/20/2014 10:56:03 AM
  • I like mixing my walking up when my son goes with me so he's not bored. We walk backwards, skip, hop, and lunges. Never thought to walk sideways we will have to throw that into the mix. - 10/24/2013 11:47:22 PM
  • I recently started downloading audiobooks to my phone and listening to those while I go on my daily walk at lunch. Now, instead of finding excuses not to go out and walk, I can't wait to go so I can find out what happens next in whatever novel I'm listening to. - 10/24/2013 7:23:44 PM
  • I live in the country and love to go walking in the afternoons, but recently my fiance was in a bad car accident. He is recuperating and I don't really have time to go walking much right now. So if you guys could pray for a fast recovery for my fiance that would be great! - 10/24/2013 3:55:37 PM
  • There are always other people on the trails where I walk, and saying hello to them is what I look forward to.

    Pumping my arms helps to keep my hands from swelling, in addition to helping with the stride and increasing intensity.

    I've heard some negative advice about ankle weights while walking. My knees are telling me that the walking shoes are plenty heavy by themselves.

    - 10/24/2013 11:47:45 AM
  • NATURELADY101
    Some good ideas here...I like walking backwards, too. And I tried walking sideways...couldn
    't go too far but it was a challenge. As an added bonus, any time a person changes a routine it's good for keeping the brain 'tuned' and younger, too! What a deal, at LEAST two specific benefits for the price of a walk! :) - 10/24/2013 8:42:16 AM
  • I try walking in different places to keep me alive. - 9/2/2013 1:11:13 PM
  • I love walking backwards. I got so bored and knew every crevice and road kill on the side of the road and then I discovered the fun of walking backwards. It was good that I knew the road so well because it helped me know to watch out for that dried out squished frog! I sure have gotten some looks though. lol I also like to walk while reading a book. Walking becomes effortless when you're absorbed in a book. Now, I've done backwards and reading at the same time, but I wouldn't recommend it. Too many senses pulled off of your safety. - 8/22/2013 9:01:25 AM
  • I started dancing on my treadmill...It's fun...At first I didn't think I would like it.But after 45 minutes I fell in love...It's fun too. - 2/15/2013 3:45:18 PM
  • I've always wanted to try geocaching. Not really sure where to start... except maybe with a GPS unit. - 2/13/2013 9:29:27 PM
  • KVJORDAN
    Very helpful information. - 12/23/2012 12:42:29 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    I get a great walking workout with the Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds videos - without leaving my house. She incorporates walking in place, walking forwards and backwards, side steps, knee lifts, kicks, even jogging in some videos.

    She also includes upper body movements, changes of pace, and a cooldown & stretching segment. Who would ever think it's possible to get the equivalent of a 5-mile walk in 1 60-minute workout - all because of the pace of movement. Lots of motivation also. - 12/2/2012 4:23:49 PM
  • KVJORDAN
    Very interesting. - 12/2/2012 4:04:37 PM
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