Not only is walking a great form of exercise for weight loss, better heart health and improved mood, but it’s also a cross-training secret weapon. To stick with a daily walking habit, it pays to be flexible. This mix-and-match plan lets you choose which type of walk you want to do and when, giving you more freedom to fit your schedule and variety to keep things exciting.
These basic guidelines can be used to structure your weekly plan and are easily adaptable for all levels and preferences. For example, if you’re feeling extra energetic, push yourself with an interval walk. If you’re feeling run down or overwhelmed, try a stress-relieving walk. If you’re ready to go the distance, see how many miles you can tally up during an endurance walk. Or, if you’re looking to focus on building strength and getting toned, add a strength circuit to your walk. It’s up to you to mix and match your miles, so have fun figuring out what works best for you.
10-MINUTE POWER UP
This excuse-proof walk is perfect for days when you are short on time but still want to break a sweat. Warm up at an easy pace for 2 minutes, then alternate 1 minute of a power pace (RPE 6) with 1 minute of all-out effort (you can turn this into a jog if you like), repeat 3 times in total. Recover with 2 minutes at an easy pace to finish your session.
ENDURANCE WALK (30–60 MINUTES)
Build stamina and maintain your aerobic strength with this steady-state walk. After a brief 3–5 minute warmup at an easy pace, maintain a brisk pace (at this effort, you should be breathing harder but still able to maintain a conversation, RPE 5–6). Finish your walk the same way you started, with a brief 3–5 minute easy-pace cooldown.
INTERVAL WALK (25-45 MINUTES)
Increase your calorie burn with time-saving intervals. Start with a 3–5 minute warmup, then amp up the intensity with 2–3 minute intervals at a steady, power pace (RPE 6), including 30–60 seconds of a very fast pace walk (RPE 7–8). You can adjust the interval windows based on your current fitness level and time constraints. As you build your fitness, you can increase the length or intensity of the more challenging intervals (building to 1 minute, or adding some brief jogging, for instance) and, if you like, decrease your moderate pace/recovery time (shortening from 3 minutes to 2, for example). Be sure to give your body time to recover by spending the last 3–5 minutes at a comfortable pace, bringing your breathing and heart rate back to a more normal state.
STRENGTH CIRCUIT WALK (30-60 MINUTES)
After a 3–5 minute warmup walk, rotate resistance training moves with walking intervals to help develop total-body strength. Alternate 2–3 minute intervals of a steady, power pace (RPE 6) with 30–60 seconds of strength-building moves such as squats, lunges, pushups, glute bridges, planks, etc. (Check out this sample plan here for more ideas and form tips.) Wind down by spending the last 5 minutes at a more comfortable pace, bringing your breathing and heart rate back to a more normal state.
STRESS-RELIEVING WALK (15-45 MINUTES)
Even though all walking can offer stress-relieving benefits, it’s important to dedicate time to walk without any pressure of hitting a certain pace or distance. If you always walk along a busy street, for instance, head to a park, or find a place that is calmer, quieter and more in nature. Take time to marvel at your surroundings, listen to relaxing music, attempt a walking meditation or simply pay extra attention to your body, your breath, your thoughts (or not). Whatever strikes you as the best way to relieve stress with your steps during this walk, go for it.
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Make progress every day while you work on fitness, like walking more steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.