Walking is a very common form of exercise; it is natural, familiar and is also extremely accessible.
Here are some useful tips you can use to help add some variety to your walking routine:
Change It Up
When your usual walk starts to become too comfortable and easy, it may be a good idea to change the route. This can be as simple as reversing your usual walking route or walking a different route of a similar length.
You can use websites like On the go map to find new walking trails.
Varying the types of surfaces on which we walk can help provide a new challenge for the muscles in our feet. A quarter of the body’s bones are in the feet so it is very important to get the feet used to different terrains to help them adapt.
Consider leaving the smooth pavement for a walk on the grass in the park or for even more of a challenge, a bush walk. Please consider your own safety when choosing alternate walking terrains.
Intervals are programmed bursts of greater intensity integrated into your normal walking pace. An example would be 20 seconds of fast walking followed by 1 minute of normal walking pace. The rationale behind intervals is to challenge the heart to adapt to the changing intensity.
A useful way to monitoring your pace and structuring your intervals is by using a heart rate tracker. You can also use a a scale of 1-10, with 10 being your maximum difficult and 1 being light.
Carrying objects place different demands on the body, more specifically the trunk muscles. Carrying a backpack on the front will place different demands on the body than if you wore it on the back. Similarly, carrying a bag on one side of the body only is a great way to increase trunk and core activation and to ensure you have to put conscious effort into your posture.
Walk with an animal or others
Walk with an animal or other people – these will all add variations to your walk! You may have friends who walk faster than you or opt for different walking terrains. This will help your nervous system and confidence to increase as you stray away from what is familiar.
Exercising with others will also help you stay motivated mentally; it is always great to see a familiar landscape through new eyes!
Use Walking Poles
Walking poles are an emerging companion to walking that are become very popular, particularly for bush walking but also for people who enjoy walking on difficult terrains but experience poor balance. They also incorporate the whole body as they require a push forward with each step, and also help with posture!