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6 Ways to Make Your Boring Walking Routine More Fun, Creative, and Effective

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

Walking is one of the best ways to get fit and stay healthy. But depending on where you do it (outdoors or on a treadmill), it can be a bit boring, right? Well, it doesn't have to be.

Luckily, there are ways to make your walking routine more creative, fun, and better for building health and fitness. Let's look at some strategies for taking your walking routine up a notch, so you can get more out of it and enjoy walking more.

1. Walk Backward

Walking backward is an underused but highly effective and fun way to get more out of walking and it gives you a new perspective on the world around you. It's also a terrific way to improve your balance, coordination, and sense of direction.

Plus, studies show it places less stress on your knee joints. That's helpful if you have arthritis. Make sure you're in a safe place when doing this with no cars or other obstacles in your path.

Walking is a man’s (and woman's) best medicine.”

— Hippocrates

2. Set a Goal and Track It

If you want to make walking more fun and effective, use a pedometer or Fitbit.

A pedometer is a device that counts your steps and helps track how far you walk each day. You can use this information to set goals for yourself: "I'd like to get at least 10,000 steps per day" or "I'd like to reach 30 minutes of brisk walking per day."

If you have trouble meeting these goals, try setting smaller ones for each week (for example: "I'll try not to let myself go below 5,000 steps on any given day this week").

You can also use a Fitbit as part of your walking routine. A Fitbit is an electronic bracelet that measures your activity level and various health parameters throughout the day–including how many calories your body burns when exercising.

The device sends this information wirelessly via Bluetooth technology so it’s stored in an app or online account where you can access it easily from anywhere at any time (provided there's an Internet connection).

Phone apps are also available that track your distance, time, and speed, among other things, while walking or bicycling.

Wearing a tracking device can make walking more effective because it gives you feedback on how well you're meeting your goals, and that's motivating!

3. Use Walking Poles

If you're used to walking with just your arms, use walking poles for an extra challenge. They'll help improve your balance, stability, and strength, in addition to being fun.

Walking poles–also known as trekking poles or hiking poles–are an excellent tool to help you walk more efficiently and safely on uneven terrains like trails or hilly terrain. They also help you maintain speed when walking uphill without overworking your quads or knees.

These lightweight poles help you walk with more power and stability while reducing stress on your knees and joints. They also offer a surprising amount of upper-body strength training that can build muscle tone and improve posture.

Studies show that walking poles burn more calories without increasing how difficult a walk feels. That's a huge benefit if you're trying to slim down!

4. Walk Mindfully

Mindfulness can transform your walk from a chore into an immersive experience. The best way to make walking more fun and creative is to do it mindfully.

Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to what you are doing, without judgment. It's about bringing your full attention to whatever you are doing and learning to see things differently.

When you walk, there are so many things you can notice and appreciate. You can look at the sky, notice the trees and flowers, listen to birds singing, or even watch your feet hitting the ground.

You can also bring your awareness to your breath and enjoy the feeling of fresh air on your skin as it moves in and out of your body with each step.

If you ever feel tired while walking, consider slowing down or taking a break until you are feeling better again before continuing your walk.

5. Change the Time of Day You Walk

Change the time of day you walk. Morning walks can be energizing, while evening strolls can help you relax. A midday walk can give your mind a break from work or schoolwork.

Here's another tip. Take your dog or cat along for the walk. Your pet will exercise, as well as enjoy fresh air and sunshine. You might even learn something new about your pet.

6. Add Speed Work

One way to make walking more effective is to add intervals. For example, if you're walking for 30 minutes at a time, try adding five-minute intervals at a faster pace. Walk the first five minutes at an easy pace (or whatever pace feels most comfortable), then walk the next five minutes at a moderate pace, and finally walk the last five minutes at a fast pace.

The idea here is that by varying your speeds, you can burn more calories than if you just walked at one speed for 30 minutes straight.

Enjoy the Benefits of Walking!

If you want to stay physically fit but can't afford a gym membership or don't have the time for a lengthy workout session, walking is an excellent option. It's free and easy, as well as low impact (so you won't be risking injury). If you're looking for a workout that's quick and easy that doesn't require special equipment–and you can do it anywhere–walking is ideal.

Walking also isn't as high-impact as running on pavement. It helps keep your joints mobile without putting too much stress on them.

Even if you don't have time for a long walk, taking a few minutes out of your day can make an enormous difference. And don't forget–walking isn't only about exercise. It's also about connecting with nature, enjoying the fresh air, and spending time with friends and family.

So go on–put on some good shoes, grab your favorite music or audiobook, and get out there! But if you walk while listening to something, be aware of traffic and stay safe.

References

  • "Nordic Walking: Pole Pushing Burns More Calories, Helps with Stability." 14 Jun. 2012, newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nordic-walking-pole-pushing-burns-more-calories-helps-with-stability/.
  • Terblanche E, Page C, Kroff J, Venter RE. The effect of backward locomotion training on the body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness of young women. Int J Sports Med. 2005 Apr;26(3):214-9. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-820997. PMID: 15776337.
  • Roos PE, Barton N, van Deursen RW. Patellofemoral joint compression forces in backward and forward running. J Biomech. 2012 Jun 1;45(9):1656-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.03.020. Epub 2012 Apr 14. PMID: 22503882; PMCID: PMC3391667.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.