Walking is subtly one of the more effective workouts out there, especially for seniors. Even a short 20-minute walk each day can have significant results on your health. But, if you’re hungry for more, there are creative ways to boost your walks. With these tips, you’ll make your low-intensity workouts more effective and more worthwhile.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

One way to lose more weight with walking is to make it harder on yourself. Specifically, adding hills to your walking path can help you to burn additional calories. How many calories? Well, some studies show that your calories burned grows an additional 60 percent by walking on hills. The steeper the hill the more calories you burn, growing four percent for every one percent steeper the hill is.

When it comes to walking, there are many ways that you can simply do it better. It may seem funny to think about, but many of us don’t walk properly, especially in the context of working out. First, many take long, striding steps, which can lead to injuries or extra strain on your joints. Instead, try taking shorter steps. Not only can this help you avoid injuries, it burns more calories. Keeping a good posture is also important for both avoiding injury and burning extra calories. Specifically, keep your head up and your back straight, though relaxed. Walk heel to toe, and swing your arms with a slight bend in your elbows.

This next tip may be a bit obvious, but if you want to maximize your walking workout, speed up a bit. Simply put, the quicker you move, the more intense your workout is. The higher the intensity, the more calories you burn. To see a benefit from moving a bit quicker, you don’t even need to maintain that speed for too long. Instead, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout or even a micro-workout can be very beneficial if done right. Try punctuating your normal walking routine with short bursts at a quicker pace. What that pace is depends on you — don’t push yourself too hard.

Finally, you can burn extra calories by adding a bit of strength training to your walk. You can do this by carrying hand weights or wearing a weighted vest while walking. Whichever you choose, the benefits are clear. Extra weight works you harder for even simple tasks. It’s why heavier people naturally burn more calories than thinner people for the same activities.

Vests can be advantageous in some cases because the weight is evenly distributed along your body. Hand or ankle weights are simple to use, readily available, and can help you burn five to 15 percent more calories. Speak to your doctor before adding weights to your walking routine, since weights can stress your joints and risk injury.

Make Walking a Part of Your Schedule

Remember, all these boosts to your walks are useless if you don’t keep at it. If walking doesn’t become a part of your schedule, even in short 10- to 15-minute trips, you’ll soon find yourself back at square one. One of the most effective methods to squeeze walking in is by making room for it.

Much like reading, take every opportunity to walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the store, if it’s close enough, instead of driving. Drink your coffee on a walk instead of sitting in your kitchen. If you’re able, make anything an excuse to get up and move a bit.

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On its own, walking is an effective, relaxing workout that’s perfect for seniors, the young, and everyone in between. If you’re looking to take your walk to the next level and lose more weight, you have plenty of options. As with any exercise, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s what’s best for you. That said, if the sun is shining and it’s beautiful out, there’s not much better than a walk outside!

Further Reading

FiveThirtyEight — If You Stop Thinking Of Exercise As A Way To Lose Weight, You May Actually Enjoy It