Fitness Articles

14 Ways to Add Variety to Your Walks

Bored with Walking? Try These Ideas!

By Jen Mueller & Nicole Nichols, Fitness Experts         
Page 1 of 2
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
Continued ›
Page 1 of 2   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • I learned as a young child to walk to school and back - uphill both ways. Barefoot often enough, and sometimes in deep snow. Sometimes a mean dog would chase me, and I would have to walk faster. Of course, that riled up the dog, who saw it as a game (I thought he had a carnivorous taste for little boys).

    I still go back to the old neighborhood and marvel at how this route really could have been uphill, both ways. There, a faded rusty sign hangs: "Steep ascent ahead. No shoes or dog leashes permitted." The same post holds the same sign, back to back, facing both directions. - 3/20/2016 11:09:40 AM
  • When I walk outside I can't avoid hitting hills - they're all around me! If I start out going downhill I will eventually have to walk uphill to get home! My walk to the library downtown yesterday included a bit of uphill to start then mostly downhill and flats. Reverse that on the way home and it is mostly uphill with a bit of downhill on the final stretch! - 1/6/2016 11:30:06 AM
  • I love to try to beat my own time, so do speed walking when I can, and I love walking outside..but today it's raining, so did a workout indoors today. I walk outside when I can. Saturday while in Lincoln, Maine, I walked a 3.38 mile walk with a REALLY STEEP hill!! LOL and then later that day my hubby and I walked in our woods on our logging property to see how the logger is doing as far as cutting cleanly and doing the trees my husband wanted. (150 acres). It was a great walk with TONS of smelled like Christmas in there! brought some boughs home for wreaths! - 11/11/2015 10:09:19 AM
  • I'm really glad to be back on the treadmill again! I had one that I wore out, but that was years ago. And I used to walk backwards on it (at a very low speed). Walking outdoors is my preference, but so much of the year it is either rainy, too cold, too hot, crazy drivers ( we're in the country, a narrow road with a fog line, no sidewalk or bike path).

    My treadmill is set up to look out over the pond and meadow . . . so I'm on my way! - 9/15/2015 1:09:27 PM
  • Whenever the opportunity arises, I walk backwards. And when my body permits, I'll had skipping. - 9/6/2015 9:07:37 AM
    when I walk, I frequently add a double back flip with a full twist. and frequently back flip, back flip, back flip, front flip, front flip, front flip ... and some times I go out to the freeway at night and try to run across all lanes ... that adds some excitement ... - 8/8/2015 2:15:02 AM
  • when my kids and I go walking, we take a basket ball, soft ball, tennis ball something to that nature and play catch or we just kick a rock or bottle or something so its more like play than exercising. - 3/21/2015 2:16:26 PM
  • I enjoy looking at nature, watching for birds, changes in the seasons, flowers, plants and landscape. Living in the country means that we might spot a deer, moose or even bear when we are walking.
    Chatting with a friend or my spouse is also enjoyable on a walk.
    Lately, avoiding falling on ice keeps me busy, too. - 2/27/2015 11:44:05 AM
  • I actually have started walking backwards some when walking with my 10 year old son. When he gets bored he will start walking backwards and I did it too just for fun. I'm glad it's good for you (I do go a lot slower though). - 2/27/2015 8:42:06 AM
  • I've started walking indoors in office building. We have one floor that we use as a track and walk around for 10-20 min in the morning and then the afternoon walk consists of taking the stairs for 7 or 8 flights. - 2/12/2015 10:54:43 AM
  • also add in geocaching! - 12/22/2014 7:38:12 PM
  • Sometimes I go on a regular walk, but do the trail in the opposite dirrection - 12/22/2014 7:37:40 PM
    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

x Lose 10 Pounds by June 17! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.