Is walking good for weight loss? Here are 7 ways to maximize the benefits of your walking workout plan

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Is it time to “step-up” your walking workout plan? Learn how to maximize the calorie-burning and fitness benefits of walking.

Walking workout plan

Increase the benefits of your walking workout plan

Walking may be the most underrated form of exercise. Walking is free and as simple as it gets for exercise. But it comes with robust benefits to your physical and emotional health.

If you already walk to get the 150 minutes a week of brisk exercise recommended by the CDC, try one of these simple ways to increase the intensity of your walking workout.

1. Seek elevation

Is your daily walk too mundane? Seek out routes with hills or stairs. Even relatively minor elevation gains can ramp-up the calorie-burning of your walking workout plan. For example, walking a five percent grade burns about 50 percent more calories than walking on a level surface. Plus, you will enjoy the view from the top!

Your downhill journey works your glutes and quads and keeps the calories burning—about 10 percent more than walking on level ground.

2. Change your walking surface

A long walk on the beach isn’t just about romance—it’s a great workout! Walking in sand burns about double the calories as walking on a hard, flat surface by adding more resistance to your steps. If you are landlocked, walk on a gravel path or road for a similar increase in calorie burn.

If you can’t get out of the city, a cobblestone path will do. A study of older adults demonstrated that participants who walked on cobblestone had lower blood pressure and improved physical function compared to those who walked on a smooth surface.

3. Try Nordic walking poles

Initially designed for cross-country skiers to train in the summer, Nordic walking involves using long poles that resemble ski poles. Nordic walking provides many benefits, including engaging your upper-body muscles, maintaining proper posture, and increasing your stability, allowing for a more vigorous walking workout. A study of weight-loss program participants at the University of Verona found that Nordic walkers lost more fat and had better upper body strength than those following a standard walking program.

4. Swing your arms

Swinging your arms when walking helps with balance, increases calorie burning, and can help you walk faster. Bend your elbows at 90 degrees and keep your elbows to your side. Swing your arms to chest height.

Note: Do not swing your arms with heavy hand weights, as this can increase your risk of injury.

5. Increase your pace

Most people have an average walking pace of 2-3 miles per hour (mph). Any walk is good for your health, but if walking for fitness and weight loss, you should increase the pace. For example, a 180-pound person burns about 40 more calories an hour by walking 3.5 mph instead of 3 mph.

Incorporating music in your walking workout, tracking your steps, and setting a goal to cover more distance in the same amount of time can also help you increase your walking speed. You might even consider breaking into a light jog for a few minutes to increase the intensity of your workout.

6. Maximize posture

The beauty of walking is that no special skills are needed. However, it is essential to pay attention to your walking posture for a better workout and preventing muscle strain. The American Council on Exercise provides these tips for better walking posture:

7. Warm up and cool down

A 5-10 minute warm-up of slower walking allows your muscles to ease into the demands of a brisk walk. If you stretch before a walk, warm up first to avoid injury. Cool down by slowing the pace the last few minutes of your walk.

Use MyNetDiary to log your walking activity

You can import your activity from such fitness trackers as FitBit or Garmin. If you log your walking workout in MyNetDiary, you can specify such things as pace, walking surface, and whether you were carrying any weight. It will track how many calories you burned. Believe it or not, you can even log walking backward up a hill!

Additional articles to help your walking workout plan

A complete guide on how to create your own workout plan from scratch (no expensive trainer required)

Here are 5 ways to make exercise fun without realizing it

Seriously, you want me to walk how many steps?

Step Bonus feature: Your reward for moving more

Reviewed and updated by Brenda Braslow on June 15, 2023.

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Exercise->Walking & Steps
Jun 16, 2023

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