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For many people, walking isn’t usually what first comes to mind when they’re thinking about “impressive” workouts. If you consider at its advantages though, there’s no denying its power: Dozens of studies tout its wide-ranging benefits, including recent research showing that walking just 30 minutes a day can decrease the risk of severe cardiovascular disease and dementia. The researchers found that the risks of heart disease and cancer decrease by 10 percent for every 2,000 steps walked per day — up to 10,000 steps.

“For me, the phrase, ‘walking is the best form of exercise,’ rings true,” says Roz Frydberg, group fitness coach and ARORA ambassador at Life Time in Ontario, Canada. “Walking is a skill our bodies are meant to do for a lifetime. It not only gets us from point A to point B, it’s also a workout that integrates the full body and has the power to help you clear your mind and reduce stress. Walking also helps us maintain and improve our balance as we age.”

To help us reap the benefits of walking, Frydberg shares three ways you can easily add walking workouts to your routine. (Whichever way you choose to move, be sure to check out “Walk This Way: Form Tips” below, for guidance on walking technique.)

1. Outdoor Walking

“Before I walk outdoors, I like to put my phone on ‘do not disturb,’” recommends Frydberg. “It’s a great time to unplug from the rest of your responsibilities and dedicate time to yourself. I also like to set a goal to smile at everyone I see along the way.” 

Walk length: About 2 miles (or 3 kilometers)

Frequency: At least three times per week

Plan for it:

Start by choosing your route. Map out a loop or an out-and-back path that’s approximately 2 miles (or 3 kilometers).

Frydberg’s tips:

  • If possible, use a fitness tracker to monitory your time and speed so you can work to improve over time. Turn on the audio feature so you hear your split time for each mile or kilometer.
  • As you get comfortable with your route, challenge yourself to walk farther or make it more challenging by finding a path with some rolling hills for resistance.
  • Make sure you have properly fitting walking shoes. If you’re walking outdoors, you may want to opt for trail shoes with better traction, or waterproof shoes for comfort in all weather.

2. Indoor Walking

“When the weather isn’t on your side, a mall or indoor track can be a great place to get your steps in,” says Frydberg.

Walk length: 30 minutes

Frequency: At least three times per week

Plan for it:

Identify your indoor destination and its open hours. If possible, inquire about busy times so you can schedule your walks when traffic is lower. Be sure to allocate enough time for your walk and any travel time it will take you go get to and from the location.

Frydberg’s tips:

  • If possible, use a fitness watch to track your time and speed so you can work to improve over time.
  • As you get comfortable with your route, challenge yourself to walk farther in the same amount of time. If you’re in a location with stairs, incorporate them into your route for added challenge once you’ve built up a solid aerobic base.

3. Treadmill Warm-Up or Cool-Down Walk

“I always encourage my clients and class participants to walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes both before and after a workout,” says Frydberg. “It gets your heart pumping before and settles your body down after.” 

Walk length: 10 minutes

Frequency: Before and after workouts

Plan for it:

Arrive at the health club or gym with enough time for the full 10-minute warm-up. This can not only get your blood flowing, but also mobilize your joints, which is important for preventing injury. After your workout, take the time to cool down so you don’t go directly from movement to inactivity. 

How to do it:

  • While standing on the treadmill, hold the side rails and press “start.” Begin at a slow pace, ideally between 2 and 3 mph.
  • As you feel comfortable, increase the speed and incline one level at a time. Choose a speed and incline that feels challenging yet still allows you to carry on a conversation.

Frydberg’s tips:

  • If you’re taking a group fitness class with friends, invite them to join your warm-up or cool-down on the treadmill next to you.
  • As this becomes part of your routine, set goals to progress your speed and incline over time. It can be as simple as trying to go one level faster than the previous week.

Walk This Way: Form Tips

Whether you’re walking indoors or outdoors, on a treadmill or on a trail, keep these form tips in mind so you can make the most of your efforts.

  • Roll your shoulders down and back, stand tall, and begin taking your first steps.
  • For each step you take, be sure to place your heel down first, then roll to the ball of your foot.
  • Let your arms purposefully swing forward and backward, hands near your hips, as you step with purpose and take deep breaths.

ARORA Walking Club at Life Time

Many Life Time locations have a seasonal, 50-minute outdoor walking class called ARORA Walking Club. By adding a social element to your walks, you gain health benefits from the exercise itself, as well as the connections you’re making.

“The goal is to walk for 50 minutes at your own pace,” Frydberg explains. “We have a leader in the front, a designated middle walker, and slower-paced walkers. When I lead Walking Club, I make sure all members in are my line of vision and I double back a few times throughout the walk to check on everyone.”

Although the walk varies by Life Time location, your club leader typically leads an out-and-back outdoor walk.

“At our club, we meet in the lobby,” says Frydberg. “Other clubs have trails nearby and meet at the trail. We’ll always explain the route before we get started. Before we return to the lobby, I’ll lead some stretches and we all congratulate each other for getting our walk in! It’s such a great opportunity to get outside, move your body, be social, and have fun with others,” says Frydberg.

Check the class schedule or ask your Membership Concierge to learn more about ARORA Walking Club.

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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