Did you get to check out our recent blog, A Physical Therapists Recommendation to Walk? If not, we recommend reading that blog and then coming back here. As that blog stated, walking 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week has been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance, and reduce blood pressure and weight. This blog will give you some ideas on how you can spice up your outdoor walking routine! These concepts and exercises will allow you to elevate your heart rate while challenging your balance and stamina.
High Knees are a great cardiovascular-intensive exercise that engages your core, glutes and hamstrings. They also improve momentum, coordination, and flexibility. To perform high knees start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms bent at 90 degrees. Lift your left knee towards your chest. Next, switch to lift your right knee to your chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs and moving at a brisk pace. On your next walk try adding 3 to 6 sets of 20-30 seconds of high knees with ample recovery in between each set.
Skipping will use your legs, hip flexors, glutes, core, arms, and shoulders while activating the muscular and nervous systems as well as elevating the heart rate. If you’re looking to transition from walking to running begin with intervals of skipping. Skipping has less impact on your joints than running. Because of the flow of a skipping movement you minimize impact forces, making it safe and effective. And it can make you feel like a kid again! Try adding in short segments of skipping on your next walk!
Side shuffling is perfect for targeting the lower body, especially the hips and glutes. This is a simple all-purpose strength and conditioning exercise. The side shuffle is a lateral movement that requires attention to proper body mechanics including a tight core. Keeping your core engaged helps you maintain good posture and form during the movement. It also reduces the risk of falls as you shift from side to side. There is a tendency to bend too far forward and drop the chest during side shuffles. It is important to keep your chest lifted and look forward. Side shuffles should be performed with a slight hinge forward at the hips and bent knees. Keep theside shuffles slow and controlled before adding speed. This will help you gain body awareness and confidence during the exercise before picking up the pace!
Interval Object Routine
After an easy warm-up, find an object off in the near distance: a tree, rock, mailbox, telephone pole and walk to it at a brisk pace. Once you reach your destination recover by slowing down your pace. Next repeat the process until the end of your session. Make it fun by doing it with a partner or your children. Alternate who picks the next object to go to!
Stairs are simply a more powerful form of walking. Stair climbing requires you to pull your weight against gravity. Even when climbing stairs at a normal pace, you will burn two to three times more energy than walking on the flat surface at a brisk pace. A Harvard Alumni Study found that men who climbed an average of eight or more flights of stairs a day had a 33% lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary. Make sure to engage your core, glute muscles as you extend and push off of the step. Avoid using the handrails to get the most benefit out of your stair climbing.
We hope you find these dynamic movements and exercises beneficial to your walking program! Always consult with your physical therapist or physician on their recommendations and remember to start slow and gradually progress as your fitness level improves.