Many people are now familiar with the 10,000 steps per day recommendation. Because if you move a lot in everyday life, you do something good for your health. But you can do even more: With small changes, walking becomes a real fitness booster. FITBOOK tells you what to pay attention to.
You must walk 10,000 steps a day; this guideline has probably reached most people who are striving to lead a healthy lifestyle. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 65 take just these 10,000 steps a day or at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.1 This reduces the risk of obesity and associated diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. significantly. But what if you not only want to be healthy, but also stay fit, without going to the gym? FITBOOK has compiled tips and exercises on how to get really fit while walking.
1. Hand weights
Unfortunately, the upper body is neglected when walking: while the trunk muscles are still training, the shoulder and arm muscles get a break. There is a simple remedy: lift weights! It is best to grab small dumbbells weighing 0.5 kilograms while swinging your arms. Alternatively, cuffs with weights can be attached to the wrists. This strengthens the arm muscles in particular. In addition, the metabolism is accelerated. Because, as scientists discovered, the simple act of swinging your arms has a positive effect on metabolism, but only at medium and fast walking speeds.two
Caution: Do not use this fitness enhancer while running! Experts agree that being overweight while jogging is bad for your health. They cause the running style to deteriorate and increase the load on the joints. Therefore, it is not recommended to carry weights when jogging. When walking, however, they can be used briefly to strengthen muscles. Make sure you walk upright and don’t bend your wrists. If you experience painful wrist strain, stop using weights and seek expert advice (eg, sports doctor, physical therapist).
Also interesting: can 10,000 steps a day really replace exercise?
2. Vary the speed
When it comes to walking, you have at your disposal a very simple parameter to get the most out of your physical form: the speed of the march. When you increase your running speed, you not only burn more calories, but also increase fat metabolism and improve your endurance. You don’t have to goose-step all the time. It is enough to vary the speed and, from time to time, increase the rhythm for a few minutes.
Walking speed has also been shown to be an important indicator of fitness and overall health. Therefore, it is also counted among the so-called vital signs.3 So make a conscious effort to pick up your pace and walk faster.
Also interesting: almost no strenuous training reduces body fat better
3. Walk on your toes
Not only can you vary your pace, you can also vary your walking style. A very simple exercise to strengthen your calves is walking on your toes. You will immediately notice the tension in your calf muscles. In addition, you can also consciously tighten your gluteal muscles while walking and thus train your glutes. Walking on your toes also strengthens your foot muscles. A simple exercise to kill several birds with one stone. So: No mercy for the calf!
Also interesting: calf training: tips for training with and without equipment
4. Don’t miss the stairs
A very effective way to increase fitness while walking is to take the stairs from time to time. Or rather: do not miss the opportunity to use the stairs. Studies have shown that it can improve endurance and the cardiovascular system.4 The increase in fitness is immediately noticeable through the increased respiratory rate. The thighs and buttocks in particular are trained. In the future, therefore, avoid using aids that help bridge height differences (elevator, escalator, etc.) when walking as often as possible, and consciously integrate stairs into your path. Many parks with overlooks offer an ideal opportunity to spice up the walk. Ambitious people go up and down several times – fitness and health benefit from this.
Also interesting: Is climbing stairs always healthy?
5. Look for mountainous routes
For people in mountainous regions, it is part of everyday life to tackle slopes. Just like climbing stairs, this also ensures an increased heart and breathing rate and thus strengthens the cardiovascular system. So consciously choose places to walk that have slopes. City parks also often offer this option. If you decide not to walk the flat route (easy), but rather the hilly route (demand), you will experience a real fitness boost.
Also interesting: The effect of walking after a meal on blood sugar levels
6. Walk backwards in the middle
Several studies have shown that walking backwards not only improves walking style, but also improves balance and mobility in both children and adults who have had a stroke.5.6 Balance training in particular also protects older people from falls. Anyone who regularly walks backwards for a few minutes improves their overall gait. But test it carefully first, preferably with a training partner. If you feel safe, you can also try looking back on your own. Not only is this a useful exercise, but it also makes walking fun.
- 1. WHO: Pacific Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (Accessed 01.27.2022)
- 2. Tomas SA, Vega D, Arellano CJ (2021). Do humans take advantage of the metabolic and mechanical benefits of arm swing at slow to fast walking speeds? J Biomech.
- 3. Middleton A, Fritz SL, Lusardi M (2015). Gait speed: the functional vital sign. J Law of physiotherapy for aging.
- 4. Meyer P, Kayser B, Mach F (2009). Use of stairs for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. EUR J
- 5. Rose DK, DeMark L, Fox EJ, Clark DJ, Wludyka P (2018). Backward walking training program to improve balance and mobility in acute stroke: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Neurol Phys Ther.
- 6. Hao WY, Chen Y (2011). Backward walking training improves balance in school-age children. Sports Med Arthrosc Rehab Ther Technol.