Walking can be a great (and easy) way to start a daily exercise routine to aid weight loss and improve health. While there are plenty of ways to progress your walking workouts, one way to up your intensity and reach new goals is to include short bouts of running. Use this guide to determine if a walk/run program is a good idea for you:
Even if you consider yourself a walker and aren’t interested in running long distances in the future, including short running intervals during walks can be beneficial to overall health and fitness. Running short distances helps elevate your heart rate, resulting in better cardiovascular fitness. Including running intervals also works different muscle groups to improve overall strength and can help you bust through a weight-loss plateau. Finally, you’ll burn more calories and cover longer distances in less time, which can be especially helpful if you’re on a time crunch.
Keep these things in mind when deciding whether including running in your walking routine is right for you:
- Pre-existing injuries: Running can be harder on the joints, so if you have a hip or knee injury or have dealt with these issues in the past, consult with your doctor before getting started.
- Gear: If you have a dedicated pair of walking shoes, you might want to consider a new pair that you can run short distances in.
- Hydration: Because running, even for short periods, can be a much more intense form of exercise, make sure you are well hydrated. Carry water or a sports drink during your workout if you’re exercising for more than an hour.
- Digestion: While walking after a meal can aid digestion, running can be harder on the stomach, so it’s a good idea to avoid large meals before you workout.
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to include short bouts of running in your walks, you’ll need to take things slowly and be careful not to do too much too soon. Follow this plan to get started:
- Begin with a warmup. Running places more stress on your muscles and joints. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, always begin workouts with a solid warmup routine.
- Start small. Add short runs into your routine no more than two days per week to begin, and not on consecutive days. This allows your body enough recovery time between workout sessions and helps prevent common overuse injuries.
- Don’t worry about pace in the beginning. It’s OK if it’s more of a jog than a run. As long as you’re getting your heart rate up, you’re on the right track. As you get more comfortable, you can use an app like MapMyRun to track your pace and progress.
- Set a new challenge. After you’ve done some walk/running intervals regularly for a couple of weeks, you can make things harder by adding to the overall duration of your workout or increasing the duration of the run interval. Just remember to increase your time gradually over several weeks.
- Cool down after your workout. Make sure you stretch and foam roll, hydrate properly and ice any problem areas.