Walking regularly at a normal walking pace has lots of health benefits, but the benefits are increased if you take the pace up to brisk walking. In particular, brisk walking will increase cardio fitness and weight loss benefits.
Use speed intervals to combine normal and brisk walking
This weekly program uses a combination of 3 walking speeds. As well as adding variety, the speed intervals increase the training benefits of walking by pushing the heart rate up for a short time, then allowing it to recover.
There is a different walk for each day of the week, Mondays and Saturdays are the only days when you do the whole walk at normal walking pace. For the rest of the week, the walks are split into intervals of normal walking pace, medium pace and brisk walking pace.
The 3 different speeds are measured by effort level.
- Level 1: a normal walking pace
- Level 2: a bit faster than normal walking speed, enough to make you breathe a bit heavier and feel warmer
- Level 3: brisk walking – at this level you are starting to feel out of breath and holding a conversation is more difficult
Three of the walks are 10 minutes long and 4 are 20 minutes. The schedule sets out the minutes at each level for each week’s walk. All the interval walks have warm ups and cool downs at level 1 (normal walking pace). Tuesday and Thursday’s walks allow you a recovery at level 1 in the middle, while Sunday’s walk in the most strenuous, with only the warm up and cooldown at level 1.
What you need
Comfortable clothes and shoes: You don’t need trainers but you should wear flat, well fitting shoes. Wearing layers that you can remove is a good idea so that you don’t overheat as you pick up your walking pace.
Water: Make sure you always take some water out with you.
A soft surface for stretching: You don’t necessarily need an exercise mat, but doing the stretches on a hard floor won’t be comfortable. A folded blanket or quilt will do.
Something to time your intervals – ideally a digital watch, stopwatch or stopwatch function on a phone. It’s harder to be accurate and remember where you’re up to with an analogue watch.
Planning your route
The most straightforward way of walking for the right number of minutes, is to do half the minutes and then turn around and walk back again. If, however, you want to map out a route, there are plenty of online planners available. See here for a guide to using one. To map a route, you’ll need to know the distance you’re going to be covering. The walks are all slightly different and walking paces will differ from person to person, but based on average walking speeds at the 3 levels, you should cover approximately these distances:
10 minute walks: 0.5 mile
20 minute walks: 1 mile
Before you start ..
Walking is a safe and natural activity, but please read these general exercise guidelines before starting.
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