Turn Walks Into Workouts
So what are Taylor's fitness secrets? They're nothing you can't handle with a little determination. Just keep reading, and happy trails.
Ever make fun of the walkers swinging their arms like there's no tomorrow? They know something you don't. "This is the number one best thing to do," Taylor says. "Bend your arms 90 degrees at your elbow as you walk. This will quicken your pace, raise your heart rate, use more muscles, and burn 5 to 10 percent more calories. Walk at a quick pace with your arms by your side. Let them swing naturally as you walk. Then gradually bend them while keeping the natural rhythm of the swing. Don't exaggerate the motion and continue to stand tall with your chin up. You will notice immediately how your bent arm swing helps with your gait, balance, and propulsion."
If you want to get more sweat (and effectiveness) per stride, break up your walk into slow and fast segments. "Vary the pace of your walk so that you have a phase of working hard (up to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate) followed by a recovery phase where you stroll slowly bringing your heart rate down," Taylor says. Repeat each group of segments as you see fit and don't forget to warm up for at least 10 minutes before each session.
Head for the hills
"To increase body toning, cardiovascular fitness, and calorie burn, walk uphill," Taylor says. Sound daunting? Listen to this: "As a gauge, each 500 feet of elevation gain you walk will feel like one additional mile." Now that's making a difference!
Is your normal circuit on sidewalks or paved road shoulders? It might be time to find a trail. "Walking on a rough but level track requires 50 percent more energy than walking on a paved road," Taylor says. Chances are, unless you live in the heart of the paved jungle, there are alternative walking routes all around you. Go find them!
Think you can't strength train without a gym membership? The next time you're on that power walk, think of creative ways to tone specific muscles. Taylor suggests using a park bench for push-ups, a curb for calf raises, and a wall for wall sits.
Enter an event
Consider this a morale booster if nothing else. Register for a 5K or 10K a couple of months in advance and then train for it. "Start by setting a goal for how fast you want to complete the course," Taylor says. "Set up your training schedule to help you accomplish your objective. Be consistent in your walking workouts. Reward yourself as you train to help you keep focused on the event."
Rewards are nice, just go easy on the ice cream.
Kristopher Kaiyala is a freelance fitness and outdoors writer based in the Pacific Northwest.